A solar spacecraft took an incredible snapshot of multiple planets, astronauts were photographed before their spacewalk and an aurora was visible from the International Space Station. These are some of the top photos this week from Space.com.
Solar system snapshot
NASA’s Parker Solar Probe is tasked with learning about the solar wind, but it also can gather other cool solar-system observations. In new imagery, the spacecraft spotted six different planets on June 7, 2020, with the sun out of frame to the left. From left to right, the planets Mars, Saturn, Jupiter, Venus, Earth and Mercury appear in the image. The spacecraft was roughly 98.3 million miles (158 million kilometers) from Earth when the image was captured.
Apollo 15 landing site
This image of the lunar surface shows the Apollo 15 landing site in the Hadley-Apennine region. Researchers used a demonstration radar transmitter at the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia and receivers from the Very Long Baseline Array to produce this image, which was taken in November 2020.
Not yet a star
Protostars are not quite stars yet. They’re still forming and have not achieved the densities and temperatures needed to trigger nuclear fusion. One example of a protostar is IRAS 20324+4057, seen here in this image. Astronomers recently found prebiotic molecules, which may be associated with life, in two other protostars, known as Serpens SMM1-a and IRAS 16293B.
The ‘Lost’ galaxy
The spiral galaxy NGC 4535 is also called the ‘Lost galaxy’ for its hazy appearance. It’s a barred spiral galaxy, like the Milky Way. Barred spiral galaxies feature a vast swirl of stars with a distinct bar structure at its center.
A picture taken on Jan. 10, 2020 shows the Full Wolf Moon rising behind Christmas street decorations during the penumbral lunar eclipse in Skopje, Macedonia as seen by photographer Robert Atanasovski. The January 2021 full moon, called the Wolf Moon, occurred on Thursday, Jan. 28, at 2:16 p.m. EST (1916 GMT) according to NASA. The moon was in the constellation Cancer, and rose just a few minutes before sunset.
Victor Glover leaves the station
NASA astronauts Victor Glover and Mike Hopkins stepped outside the International Space Station on Wednesday (Jan. 27) for Glover’s first spacewalk, or extravehicular activity (EVA). In this photo, you can see Glover preparing for the spacewalk During the EVA, the pair installed a new antenna on the Columbus module on the outside of the space station. — Chelsea Gohd
Ready for testing
The first complete upper stage of the Ariane 6 launch vehicle from the European Space Agency is seen here packed into a container to travel from ArianeGroup in Bremen in Germany to the DLR German Aerospace Center in Lampoldshausen, Germany. There, it will undergo hot fire testing, or tests during which all engines are ignited while the launch vehicle remains stationary. These tests, which will take place in near-vacuum conditions, will help to prove that the vehicle is flight ready. — Chelsea Gohd
Simulating space on Earth
In this photo, a scientist at the European Space Agency’s Materials and Electrical Components Laboratory at the ESTEC technical center in the Netherlands works on essential mission work. Most ESA employees continue to work from home due to concerns regarding the continuing covid-19 pandemic, but certain activities are still happening on-site. This lab is supporting a variety of work including the development of new radiation-resistant coatings, which are tested by exposing them to ultraviolet and vacuum-ultraviolet light. — Chelsea Gohd
Preparing for ColKa
NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins and Victor Glover stepped outside the confines of the International Space Station on Jan. 27, 2021. The pair installed European payloads outside the station. In this image, you can see European Space Agency astronaut Andreas Mogensen installing the Columbus Ka-band (ColKa) terminal, one of the things that was installed during the upcoming spacewalk, during a test at the Neutral Buoyancy Lab. — Chelsea Gohd
An aurora from space
These images, taken from the International Space Station, show Earth’s glowing, colorful aurora alongside lights coming from the cities on our planet’s surface down below. Aurora is a natural phenomenon in which colorful lights in the sky, which often appear as green, red, yellow or white, are displayed when electrically-charged particles from the sun interact with gases like oxygen or nitrogen in our planet’s atmosphere. — Chelsea Gohd.