Mars' moon Phobos

As of March 2020, our Mars Odyssey spacecraft has captured these six views of the Martian moon Phobos. The orbiter's infrared camera, the Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS), is used to measure temperature variations that provide insight into the physical properties and composition of the moon.

Chronologically, the views represent waxing, waning and full phases of the moon. On Feb. 25, 2020, Phobos was observed during a lunar eclipse, where Mars' shadow completely blocked sunlight from reaching the moon's surface. This provided some of the coldest temperatures measured on Phobos to date: The coldest measured was about -189 degrees Fahrenheit (-123 degrees Celsius). On March 27, 2020, Phobos was observed exiting an eclipse, when the surface was still warming up.

All of the THEMIS infrared images are colorized and overlain on THEMIS visible images taken at the same time, except for the eclipse image, which is overlain on a computer-generated visible image of what Phobos would have looked like if it wasn't in complete shadow. Phobos is about 15 miles (about 25 kilometers) across.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/NAU

GJ 504 b

If humans could travel to this giant planet, we would see a world still glowing from the heat of its formation with a color reminiscent of a dark cherry blossom, a dull magenta.

Using infrared data from the Subaru Telescope in Hawaii, astronomers discovered this gas giant orbiting a bright star named GJ 504 in 2013. Several times the mass of Jupiter and similar in size, the new world, dubbed GJ 504b, is the lowest-mass planet ever detected around a star like the sun using direct imaging techniques.

GJ 504b is about four times more massive than Jupiter and has an effective temperature of about 460 degrees Fahrenheit (237 Celsius). It orbits the G0-type star GJ 504, which is slightly hotter than the Sun and is faintly visible to the unaided eye in the constellation Virgo. The star lies 57 light-years away and researchers estimate the system is about 160 million years old, based on methods that link the star's color and rotation period to its age.

Image Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/S. Wiessinger

spacecraft above rocky asteroid terrain

NASA's OSIRIS-REx is ready for touchdown on asteroid Bennu. On Aug. 11, the mission will perform its “Matchpoint” rehearsal – the second practice run of the Touch-and-Go (TAG) sample collection event. The rehearsal will be similar to the Apr. 14 “Checkpoint” rehearsal, which practiced the first two maneuvers of the descent, but this time the spacecraft will add a third maneuver, called the Matchpoint burn, and fly even closer to sample site Nightingale – reaching an altitude of approximately 131 ft (40 m) – before backing away from the asteroid.

This artist's rendering shows OSIRIS-REx spacecraft descending towards asteroid Bennu to collect a sample of the asteroid’s surface.

Image Credit: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona

A starry sky above the Earth's atmospheric glow

This long-exposure photograph captures a starry sky above the Earth's atmospheric glow as the International Space Station orbited above the Indian Ocean about halfway between South Africa and Australia.

Image Credit: NASA

SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft is lifted onto the SpaceX GO Navigator recovery ship shortly after it landed

NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley are aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft as it is lifted onto the SpaceX GO Navigator recovery ship shortly after landing in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Pensacola, Florida, Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020. The Demo-2 test flight for NASA's Commercial Crew Program was the first to deliver astronauts to the International Space Station and return them safely to Earth onboard a commercially built and operated spacecraft. Behnken and Hurley returned after spending 64 days in space.

View the SpaceX Demo-2 landing gallery on Flickr.

Image Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

n image of the Comet C/2020 F3 NEOWISE (Comet NEOWISE) captured above the tree line of Lone Pine Lake.

Faintly  in the distance, Comet C/2020 F3 NEOWISE (Comet NEOWISE) streaked across the sky above the tree line of Lone Pine Lake, located on the Mount Whitney Trail in the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains in California. The comet next returns in 6,800 years. Visiting from the distant parts of our Solar System, NEOWISE is characterized by a glowing tail and is visible during the month of July. The photo was taken at 4:59 am on July 14, 2020.

Want to see it for yourself? Learn how.

Image Credit: NASA/Lauren Hugh

People working with heat shield inflatable structure.

NASA is developing technologies to send humans to the Red Planet. 

The agency is working on an inflatable heat shield that allows the large surface area to take up less space in a rocket than a rigid one. The technology could land spacecraft on any planet with an atmosphere. It would expand and inflate before it enters the Martian atmosphere to land cargo and astronauts safely. 

In this image, engineers prepare for the flexible heat shield installation on the inflatable structure. The view is from bottom side, and the heat shield is on top.

The technology isn’t ready for the Red Planet just yet. An upcoming flight test of a 6-meter diameter (about 20 feet) prototype will demonstrate how the aeroshell performs as it enters Earth’s atmosphere. The test will prove it can survive the intense heat during entry at Mars.

Learn about 6 Technologies NASA is Advancing to Send Humans to Mars.

Image Credit: NASA/Langley Research Center

A close-up view of the docking target on the Apollo 11 Lunar Module

On July 21, 1969, command and service module pilot Michael Collins photographed this close-up view of the docking target on the Apollo 11 Lunar Module from the Command Module. The image was captured during docking in lunar orbit as Mission Commander Neil Armstrong and lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin returned from the lunar surface. Collins had remained in lunar orbit while Armstrong and Aldrin explored the lunar surface.

Armstrong and Aldrin spent 21 hours, 36 minutes on the Moon's surface. During the mission's spacewalk, Aldrin deployed the Early Apollo Scientific Experiments Package, or EASEP, experiments, and Armstrong and Aldrin gathered and verbally reported on the lunar surface samples. The entire spacewalk lasted more than two-and-a-half hours, ending at 111 hours, 39 minutes into the mission.

Image Credit: NASA

Close-up view of the plaque which the Apollo 11 astronauts left on the moon in commemoration of the historic lunar landing

On July 20, 1969, two American astronauts made history by landing on the surface of another celestial body.

This image is a close-up view of the plaque, which Apollo 11 Commander Neil Armstrong and lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin left on the Moon in commemoration of the historic lunar landing mission. The plaque was attached to the ladder on the landing gear strut on the descent stage of the Apollo 11 lunar module. The plaque was covered with a thin sheet of stainless steel during flight. Astronaut Michael Collins, command module pilot, remained with the command and service modules in lunar orbit while Armstrong and Aldrin explored the Moon.

Image Credit: NASA

Starry nighttime shot of Rio de Janeiro and surrounding cities

The crew snapped this starry nighttime shot of Rio de Janeiro and surrounding cities on the Brazilian coast, as the International Space Station orbited above São Paolo. Whhile the crew observes Earth from more than 200 miles above the planet, astronaut Bob Behnken and Commander Chris Cassidy also are concentrating on the final set of power upgrade spacewalks on the station with their next spacewalk slated for Thursday, July 16. 

Image Credit: NASA

NASA's Mars 2020 Perseverance rover waits to be lifted onto its Atlas V launch vehicle

In this image, NASA's Mars 2020 Perseverance rover waits to be lifted onto its Atlas V launch vehicle at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on July 7, 2020.

The Mars 2020 mission is part of a larger program that includes missions to the Moon as a way to prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet. Charged with returning astronauts to the Moon by 2024, NASA will establish a sustained human presence on and around the Moon by 2028 through the Artemis lunar exploration plans.

Image Credit: NASA/KSC

 HBC 672

Astronomers using a previously captured Hubble imagery spotted a remarkable image of a young star's unseen, planet-forming disk casting a huge shadow across a more distant cloud in a star-forming region. The star is called HBC 672, and the shadow feature was nicknamed the "Bat Shadow" because it resembles a pair of wings. The nickname turned out to be unexpectedly appropriate, because now those "wings" appear to be flapping!

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and STScI

An electric Hall thruster

Psyche, the NASA mission to explore a metal-rock asteroid of the same name, recently passed a crucial milestone that brings it closer to its August 2022 launch date. Now the mission is moving from planning and designing to high-gear manufacturing of the spacecraft hardware that will fly to its target in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

Mission scientists and engineers worked together to plan the investigations that will determine what makes up the asteroid Psyche, one of the most intriguing targets in the main asteroid belt. Scientists think that, unlike most other asteroids that are rocky or icy bodies, Psyche is largely metallic iron and nickel – similar to Earth's core – and could be the heart of an early planet that lost its outer layers.

In this image, an electric Hall thruster, identical to those that will be used to propel the Psyche spacecraft, undergoes testing at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The blue glow is produced by the xenon propellant, a neutral gas used in car headlights and plasma TVs.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU

STS-135 launch

When space shuttle Atlantis launched in July 2011 on the STS-135 mission carrying the Raffaello multipurpose logistics module and delivering supplies and spare parts to the International Space Station, it was the orbiter's final flight and the end of an era. Chris Ferguson commanded the mission and Doug Hurley was its pilot. Also aboard were Rex Walheim and Sandy Magnus

But, we at NASA haven't been idle seen then. We've been working on a new generation of spacecraft to take us to the station and deeper into our Solar System. Learn about Artemis, our mission to land the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024, using innovative technologies to explore more of the lunar surface than ever before. And, the agency's Commercial Crew Program is working with the American aerospace industry as companies develop and operate a new generation of spacecraft and launch systems capable of carrying crews to low-Earth orbit and the International Space Station. 

Image Credit: NASA

Orion heat shield

Technicians at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida recently finished meticulously applying more than 180 blocks of ablative material to the heat shield for the Orion spacecraft set to carry astronauts around the Moon on Artemis II.

The heat shield is one of the most critical elements of Orion and protects the capsule and the astronauts inside from the nearly 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit temperatures, about half as hot at the Sun, experienced during reentry through Earth’s atmosphere when coming home from lunar velocities.

Prior to installation, several large blocks of the ablative material called AVCOAT were produced at the agency’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. They were then shipped to Kennedy and machined into 186 unique smaller blocks before being applied by the technicians onto the heat shield’s underlying titanium skeleton and carbon fiber skin.

To continue preparing the heat shield, engineers will conduct non-destructive evaluations to look for voids in the bond lines, as well as measure the steps and gaps between the blocks. The gaps will be filled with adhesive material and then reassessed. The heatshield will then undergo a thermal test after which it will be sealed, painted and then taped to help weather on-orbit thermal conditions. Once all testing has been completed, later this year the heatshield will be installed and bolted to the crew module.

NASA is working to land the first woman and the next man on the Moon by 2024. Orion, along with NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, the Human Landing System and the Gateway in orbit around the Moon, are NASA’s backbone for deep space exploration. Artemis II will be the first crewed mission of Orion atop the SLS rocket.

Image Credit: NASA/Isaac Watson

 Jupiter's dynamic North North Temperate Belt

A multitude of magnificent, swirling clouds in Jupiter's dynamic North North Temperate Belt is captured in this image from NASA's Juno spacecraft. Appearing in the scene are several bright-white "pop-up" clouds as well as an anticyclonic storm, known as a white oval.

This color-enhanced image was taken at 4:58 p.m. EDT on Oct. 29, 2018 as the spacecraft performed its 16th close flyby of Jupiter. At the time, Juno was about 4,400 miles from the planet's cloud tops, at a latitude of approximately 40 degrees north.

Citizen scientists Gerald Eichstädt and Seán Doran created this image using data from the spacecraft's JunoCam imager.

JunoCam's raw images are available at for the public to peruse and process into image products.

Image Credit: Enhanced Image by Gerald Eichstädt and Sean Doran (CC BY-NC-SA)/NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS
Astronaut Bob Behnken conducts a spacewalk

NASA astronaut Robert Behnken works during the Wednesday, July 1, 2020, six-hour and one-minute spacewalk to swap an aging nickel-hydrogen battery for a new lithium-ion battery on the International Space Station's Starboard-6 truss structure.

NASA astronauts Chris Cassidy and Behnken concluded their spacewalk at 12:14 p.m. EDT. During the spacewalk, the two NASA astronauts completed half the work to upgrade the batteries that provide power for one channel on one pair of the station’s solar arrays. The new batteries provide an improved and more efficient power capacity for operations.

They successfully moved and connected one new, powerful lithium-ion battery and its adapter place to complete the circuit to the new battery and relocated one aging nickel-hydrogen battery to an external platform for future disposal.

The following day, spacesuit checks were on the schedule for the Expedition 63 crew following a spacewalk to replace aging batteries on the space station. The duo also recharged batteries and refilled water tanks inside their U.S. spacesuits. 

Image Credit: NASA

NASA astronaut Bob Behnken during a spacewalk

On June 26, 2020, NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Chris Cassidy conducted the first of two spacewalks to swap batteries and upgrade power systems on the International Space Station's Starboard-6 truss structure. Behnken is pictured here during the six-hour and seven-minute excursion. The two astronauts conducted a second spacewalk on July 1 to complete the upgrades.

Image Credit: NASA

Deep Space 1 Spacecraft at 2.3 Million Miles

June 30 is Asteroid Day.

Asteroids, sometimes called minor planets, are rocky, airless remnants left over from the early formation of our solar system about 4.6 billion years ago. The current known asteroid count is 958,967.

This image was taken using the 200-inch Hale telescope on Palomar Mountain by astronomers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of the Deep Space 1 spacecraft at a distance of 2.3 million miles (3.7 million kilometers) from Earth. Tracing a path against the constellation Gemini. This image was obtained on Nov. 16, 1998, 23 days after the spacecraft's launch from Cape Canaveral, FL.

The spacecraft was receding from Earth at a speed of 1.1 miles per second relative to Earth. The spacecraft, just 4.9 feet high, was 4 million times dimmer than the faintest star visible to the unaided eye.

Top of the image is north. Each side of this square image is five arc-minutes, or approximately 0.08 of one degree.

Deep Space 1 was the first mission under NASA's New Millennium Program testing new technologies for use on future science missions. Among its 12 new technologies were a xenon ion propulsion system, autonomous navigation, a high-efficiency solar array and a miniature camera/spectrometer.

Visit NASA's Asteroid Watch to learn more about how the agency tracks these celestial bodies.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

View during June 26, 2020, spacewalks

On June 26, 2020, spacewalkers Bob Behnken and Chris Cassidy completed the first of two scheduled spacewalks to replace batteries on one of two power channels on the far starboard truss (S6 Truss) of the International Space Station.

In this image posted by @AstroBehnken on Twitter, he said: "Yesterday, @Astro_SEAL snapped this shot from our worksite on @Space_Station@SpaceX ’s Crew Dragon and @JAXA_en ’s HTV in clear view. Not bad for a view while working …"

During the spacewalk, Behnken and Cassidy removed five of six aging nickel-hydrogen batteries for one of two power channels for the starboard 6 (S6) truss, installed two of three new lithium-ion batteries, and installed two of three associated adapter plates that are used to complete the power circuit to the new batteries. Mission control reports that the two new batteries are working.

Cassidy and Behnken are scheduled to complete the upgrade to this initial power channel in a second spacewalk on July 1.

Image Credit: NASA 

edge-on view of the stars in galaxy NGC 5907, bright against the backdrop of space

The galaxy known as NGC 5907 stretches wide across this image. Appearing as an elongated line of stars and dark dust, the galaxy is categorized as a spiral galaxy just like our own Milky Way. In this new image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, we don’t see the beautiful spiral arms because we are viewing it edge-on, like looking at the rim of a plate. It is for this reason that NGC 5907 is also known as the Knife Edge galaxy.

The Knife Edge galaxy is about 50 million light-years from Earth, lying in the northern constellation of Draco. Although not visible in this image, ghostly streams of stars on large arching loops extend into space, circling around the galaxy; they are believed to be remnants of a small dwarf galaxy, torn apart by the Knife Edge galaxy and merged with it over 4 billion years ago.

Text credit: ESA (European Space Agency)
Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, R. de Jong; Acknowledgment: Judy Schmidt (Geckzilla)