Image of the Day

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‘Ship Tracks’ Spotted from Space

'Ship Tracks' Spotted from Space

Credit: ESA

Friday, February 9, 2018: Circling the Earth at an altitude of about 500 miles (800 km), the European Space Agency’s Copernicus Sentinel-3A satellite spotted a cluster of ship tracks in the Atlantic Ocean just off the coast of Portugal. But these tracks aren’t left behind in the ship’s wake; they’re actually condensation trails or “contrails” in the atmosphere just like the trails that airplanes create. These ship tracks are created when water vapor condenses in a ship’s exhaust fumes. — Hanneke Weitering

Juno Flies by Jupiter” readability=”35.5″>

Juno Flies by Jupiter

Juno Flies by Jupiter

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstadt

Thursday, February 8, 2018: NASA’s Juno spacecraft took this photo of Jupiter’s southern hemisphere during its ninth close flyby of the planet on Dec. 16, 2017. Juno scientists released the image yesterday (Feb. 7) as the spacecraft was completing its tenth such flyby. The spacecraft captured this image from 19,244 miles (30,970 kilometers) above Jupiter’s cloud tops, and citizen scientist Gerald Eichstädt processed the raw data from the JunoCam imager to create this color-enhanced view. — Hanneke Weitering

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‘Atoms for Peace’

'Atoms for Peace'

Credit: Judy Schmidt/NASA/ESA

Monday, February 5, 2018: This pinwheel-shaped galaxy, officially named NGC 7252, earned its nickname “Atoms for Peace” because of its superficial resemblance to an atomic nucleus surrounded by a cloud of orbiting electrons. “Atoms for Peace” was also the title of a speech President Eisenhower gave in 1953, in which he promoted the use of nuclear power for peaceful purposes rather than nuclear weapons. This image was captured by the Hubble Space Telescope and processed by citizen scientist Judy Schmidt. — Hanneke Weitering

Total Lunar Eclipse Over NASA” readability=”33.5″>

Total Lunar Eclipse Over NASA

Total Lunar Eclipse Over NASA

Credit: Ken Ulbrich/NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center

Thursday, February 1, 2018: The Super Blue Blood Moon sets over NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California in this time-lapse composite by NASA photographer Ken Ulbrich. — Hanneke Weitering

Super Blue Blood Moon” readability=”33.5″>

Super Blue Blood Moon

Super Blue Blood Moon

Credit: Jaxson Pohlman

Wednesday, January 31, 2018: A small sliver of partially the eclipsed moon is slowly taken over by Earth’s red shadow in this photo of today’s Super Blue Blood Moon. Astrophotographer Jaxson Pohlman captured this photo of the partial phase of the eclipse from Wichita, Kansas. — Hanneke Weitering

Twilight Haze on Titan” readability=”36″>

Twilight Haze on Titan

Twilight Haze on Titan

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Tuesday, January 30, 2018: The atmosphere of Saturn’s moon Titan glows with colorful, hazy layers in this newly released image from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. When Cassini acquired this view, it was approximately 20,556 miles (33,083 kilometers) from Titan, facing the night side of the moon’s north polar region. The spacecraft ended its mission by crashing into Saturn last September. — Hanneke Weitering

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Storms Swirl Near Jupiter’s North Pole

Storms Swirl Near Jupiter's North Pole

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Bjorn Jonsson

Friday, January 26, 2018: A view from NASA’s Juno spacecraft reveals commotion in Jupiter’s clouds near the planet’s north polar region. Juno captured this image during its tenth close flyby on Dec. 16, 2017. At the time, Juno was about 5,600 miles (8,787 kilometers) away from Jupiter’s cloud tops. Citizen scientist Björn Jónsson processed this color-enhanced picture using data from the spacecraft’s JunoCam imager, which is publicly available online. — Hanneke Weitering

Solar Arrays for Mars” readability=”35″>

Solar Arrays for Mars

Solar Arrays for Mars

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Lockheed Martin

Wednesday, January 24, 2018: Engineers at Lockheed Martin’s clean room in Littleton, Colorado test out the solar arrays for NASA’s next big Mars mission, the InSight lander. During the test yesterday (Jan. 23), they made sure that InSight’s solar arrays could fully deploy and that its panels could successfully convert light into power. InSight is scheduled to launch in May. — Hanneke Weitering

Snowcapped Mountains Seen From Space” readability=”33.490364025696″>

Snowcapped Mountains Seen From Space

Snowcapped Mountains Seen From Space

Credit: Roscosmos/Twitter via @SergeyISS

Tuesday, January 23, 2018: Cosmonaut Sergey Ryazansky captured this photo of the Himalayas as seen from the International Space Station. “The largest mountain range in Asia – the Himalayas – extends more than 2400 km,” Ryazansky tweeted on Monday (Jan. 22). Ryazansky returned from the space station in December after spending 128 days aboard the orbiting laboratory. — Hanneke Weitering

Underway Recovery Test 6” readability=”35.5″>

Underway Recovery Test 6

Underway Recovery Test 6

Credit: NASA/Bill White

Monday, January 22, 2018: A test model of NASA’s new Orion crew vehicle, which will eventually carry astronauts beyond low-Earth orbit, is pulled into the well deck of the U.S.S. Anchorage during Underway Recovery Test 6 on Jan. 18. This type of testing is done to help NASA improve recovery procedures and spacecraft hardware before Orion’s next flight, Exploration Mission 1, after which it will splash down in the Pacific Ocean. — Hanneke Weitering

To Pluto, and Beyond!” readability=”35″>

To Pluto, and Beyond!

To Pluto, and Beyond!

Credit: NASA/Ken Thornsley

Friday, January 19, 2018: Twelve years ago today, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft launched on a mission to Pluto. After a nine-year trek through the solar system, New Horizons flew by Pluto in 2015 and is currently on its way to an even more distant destination, a Kuiper Belt Object named MU69. — Hanneke Weitering

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Saturn’s ‘Belly Button’

Saturn's 'Belly Button'

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI/Kevin M. Gill

Thursday, January 18, 2018: Saturn’s south pole looks like a linty, cosmic belly button in this image from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. Cassini captured this view on Sept. 10, 2008, and citizen scientist Kevin Gill processed the raw data to create this stunning color image. Saturn’s south polar vortex looks a lot like a hurricane on Earth, with a round eye at the center surrounded by towering clouds. — Hanneke Weitering

Casting an Astronomical Giant” readability=”34″>

Casting an Astronomical Giant

Casting an Astronomical Giant


Wednesday, January 17, 2018: The first hexagonal segments for the main mirror of the European Southern Observatory’s Extremely Large Telescope are seen being cast by the German company SCHOTT in this image released Jan. 9. When complete, The ELT will have 798 segments. It will be the largest optical telescope on Earth when it begins operations in 2024. – Tariq Malik

Under a Super Moon” readability=”34.5″>

Under a Super Moon

Under a Super Moon

Credit: G.Hüdepohl (

Wednesday, January 9, 2018: The first full moon of 2018, a supermoon, rises over Cerres Amazones in Chile’s Atacama Desert – the future home of the European Extremely Large Telescope overseen by the European Southern Observatory. – on Jan. 1, 2018. — Tariq Malik

The Sun in 2017” readability=”34.5″>

The Sun in 2017

The Sun in 2017

Credit: ESA/Royal Observatory of Belgium

Monday, January 8, 2018: A series of 365 images from the European Space Agency’s Proba-2 satellite shows what the sun looked like every day in 2017, including a partial solar eclipse on Aug. 21. The Sun’s 11-year activity cycle continued towards a minimum this year, a period when the number of bright active regions decreased while dark coronal holes became larger and more prominent. — Hanneke Weitering

Mesmerizing Clouds of Saturn” readability=”33.016826923077″>

Mesmerizing Clouds of Saturn

Mesmerizing Clouds of Saturn

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI/Kevin M. Gill/Flickr

Friday, January 5, 2018: Brilliant hues of blue and gold are smeared across Saturn’s cloud tops in this view from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. Citizen scientist Kevin Gill processed the image using near-infrared data that the spacecraft collected just before it passed through Saturn’s ring plane in December of 2012. — Hanneke Weitering

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Boeing’s Heat Shield Put to the Test

Boeing's Heat Shield Put to the Test

Credit: Boeing

Thursday, January 4, 2018: A heat shield for Boeing’s new CST-100 Starliner space capsule undergoes qualification testing at the company’s Huntington Beach Facility in California. The spacecraft will be used to ferry astronauts to and from the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. — Hanneke Weitering

Happy New Year from the International Space Station!” readability=”32.853994490358″>

Happy New Year from the International Space Station!

Happy New Year from the International Space Station!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018: An international crew of three NASA astronauts, two Russian cosmonauts and one Japanese astronaut celebrate the new year at the International Space Station by sharing a meal in their festive (and matching) Expedition 54 t-shirts. — Hanneke Weitering

A Spiral in Space” readability=”34″>

A Spiral in Space

A Spiral in Space

Credit: European Southern Observatory

Tuesday , January 2, 2018: Like a wheel within a wheel, this dazzling barred spiral galaxy (called NGC 1398) is sculpted by ribbons of dust and gas in this view captured by the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in Chile’s Atacama Desert. The galazy is 65 million light-years away in the constellation The Furnace (Fornax). – Tariq Malik

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