December 31, 2013
From Images of Saturn From the Cassini Mission, one of 36 photos. The spinning vortex of Saturn’s north polar storm resembles a deep red rose of giant proportions surrounded by green foliage in this false-color image from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. Measurements have sized the eye at a staggering 1,250 miles (2,000 kilometers) across with cloud speeds as fast as 330 miles per hour (150 meters per second). The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 261,000 miles (419,000 kilometers) from Saturn. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI)

From Images of Saturn From the Cassini Mission, one of 36 photos. The spinning vortex of Saturn’s north polar storm resembles a deep red rose of giant proportions surrounded by green foliage in this false-color image from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. Measurements have sized the eye at a staggering 1,250 miles (2,000 kilometers) across with cloud speeds as fast as 330 miles per hour (150 meters per second). The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 261,000 miles (419,000 kilometers) from Saturn. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI)

September 11, 2013
From The International Space Station: Expedition 36, one of 42 photos. Photographers take pictures of the launch of the Soyuz-FG rocket booster carrying the Soyuz TMA-09M space ship with a new crew to the International Space Station (ISS), as it blasted off at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, in Kazakhstan, on May 29, 2013. The spacecraft blasted off for a six-hour trip to the ISS, for the start of Expedition 36. (AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel)

From The International Space Station: Expedition 36, one of 42 photos. Photographers take pictures of the launch of the Soyuz-FG rocket booster carrying the Soyuz TMA-09M space ship with a new crew to the International Space Station (ISS), as it blasted off at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, in Kazakhstan, on May 29, 2013. The spacecraft blasted off for a six-hour trip to the ISS, for the start of Expedition 36. (AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel)

August 5, 2013
From One Year on Mars: The Curiosity Rover, one of 26 photos. On Mars, a self-portrait of NASA’s rover Curiosity, combining dozens of exposures taken by the rover’s Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) during the 177th Martian day, or sol, in this February 3, 2013 image. The rover was positioned at a patch of flat outcrop called “John Klein,” which was selected as the site for the first rock-drilling activities by Curiosity. (Reuters/NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

From One Year on Mars: The Curiosity Rover, one of 26 photos. On Mars, a self-portrait of NASA’s rover Curiosity, combining dozens of exposures taken by the rover’s Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) during the 177th Martian day, or sol, in this February 3, 2013 image. The rover was positioned at a patch of flat outcrop called “John Klein,” which was selected as the site for the first rock-drilling activities by Curiosity. (Reuters/NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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May 14, 2013
From Welcome Back to Earth, Commander Hadfield, one of 40 photos. The Russian Soyuz space capsule, carrying Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, U.S. astronaut Tom Marshburn, and Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko, lands some 150 km (90 miles) southeast of the town of Zhezkazgan in central Kazakhstan, on May 14, 2013. The first Canadian astronaut to command the International Space Station (ISS) landed safely in Kazakhstan with two crewmates on Tuesday, wrapping up a five-month mission aboard the ISS. (Reuters/Mikhail Metzel)

From Welcome Back to Earth, Commander Hadfield, one of 40 photos. The Russian Soyuz space capsule, carrying Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, U.S. astronaut Tom Marshburn, and Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko, lands some 150 km (90 miles) southeast of the town of Zhezkazgan in central Kazakhstan, on May 14, 2013. The first Canadian astronaut to command the International Space Station (ISS) landed safely in Kazakhstan with two crewmates on Tuesday, wrapping up a five-month mission aboard the ISS. (Reuters/Mikhail Metzel)

April 24, 2013
From Around the Solar System, one of 35 photos. Dozens of coronal loops gyrate above several active regions of the sun, as they were rotating into view on October 17, 2012. When viewed in extreme ultraviolet light, the dancing loops of competing and connecting magnetic field lines become visible. (NASA/SDO/GSFC)

From Around the Solar System, one of 35 photos. Dozens of coronal loops gyrate above several active regions of the sun, as they were rotating into view on October 17, 2012. When viewed in extreme ultraviolet light, the dancing loops of competing and connecting magnetic field lines become visible. (NASA/SDO/GSFC)

April 1, 2013
From The International Space Station: Expedition 34, one of 40 photos. A photograph taken by a member of Expedition 34, aboard the International Space Station, looking down on the Bahamas from orbit, on January 13, 2013 (NASA)

From The International Space Station: Expedition 34, one of 40 photos. A photograph taken by a member of Expedition 34, aboard the International Space Station, looking down on the Bahamas from orbit, on January 13, 2013 (NASA)

February 8, 2013
From 9 Years on Mars, one of 30 photos. NASA’s rover Opportunity visits Victoria Crater, viewed from orbit by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in october of 2006. Opportunity is a small dot on the crater’s lip, at top right. Opportunity first reached the crater’s rim on September 27, 2006. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona)

From 9 Years on Mars, one of 30 photos. NASA’s rover Opportunity visits Victoria Crater, viewed from orbit by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in october of 2006. Opportunity is a small dot on the crater’s lip, at top right. Opportunity first reached the crater’s rim on September 27, 2006. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona)

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December 25, 2012
Merry Christmas Everyone! — Day 25 of the 2012 Hubble Space Telescope Advent Calendar, one of 25 photos. The Sombrero galaxy, Messier 104 (M104). The galaxy’s hallmark is a brilliant white, bulbous core encircled by the thick dust lanes comprising the spiral structure of the galaxy. As seen from Earth, the galaxy is tilted nearly edge-on. We view it from just six degrees north of its equatorial plane. This brilliant galaxy was named the Sombrero because of its resemblance to the broad rim and high-topped Mexican hat. At a relatively bright magnitude of +8, M104 is just beyond the limit of naked-eye visibility and is easily seen through small telescopes. The Sombrero lies at the southern edge of the rich Virgo cluster of galaxies and is one of the most massive objects in that group, equivalent to 800 billion suns. The galaxy is 50,000 light-years across and is located 28 million light-years from Earth. (NASA/ESA and The Hubble Heritage Team STScI/AURA)

Merry Christmas Everyone! — Day 25 of the 2012 Hubble Space Telescope Advent Calendar, one of 25 photos. The Sombrero galaxy, Messier 104 (M104). The galaxy’s hallmark is a brilliant white, bulbous core encircled by the thick dust lanes comprising the spiral structure of the galaxy. As seen from Earth, the galaxy is tilted nearly edge-on. We view it from just six degrees north of its equatorial plane. This brilliant galaxy was named the Sombrero because of its resemblance to the broad rim and high-topped Mexican hat. At a relatively bright magnitude of +8, M104 is just beyond the limit of naked-eye visibility and is easily seen through small telescopes. The Sombrero lies at the southern edge of the rich Virgo cluster of galaxies and is one of the most massive objects in that group, equivalent to 800 billion suns. The galaxy is 50,000 light-years across and is located 28 million light-years from Earth. (NASA/ESA and The Hubble Heritage Team STScI/AURA)

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December 24, 2012
Day 24 of the 2012 Hubble Space Telescope Advent Calendar, one of 25 photos (eventually). A pair of one-half light-year long interstellar ‘twisters’ — eerie funnels and twisted-rope structures - in the heart of the Lagoon Nebula (M8) which lies 5,000 light-years away in the direction of the constellation Sagittarius. (A. Caulet ST-ECF, ESA, and NASA)

Day 24 of the 2012 Hubble Space Telescope Advent Calendar, one of 25 photos (eventually). A pair of one-half light-year long interstellar ‘twisters’ — eerie funnels and twisted-rope structures - in the heart of the Lagoon Nebula (M8) which lies 5,000 light-years away in the direction of the constellation Sagittarius. (A. Caulet ST-ECF, ESA, and NASA)

December 23, 2012
Day 23 of the 2012 Hubble Space Telescope Advent Calendar, one of 25 photos (eventually).  Thanks to the presence of a natural “zoom lens” in space, this is a close-up look at one of the brightest distant “magnified” galaxies in the universe known to date. It is one of the most striking examples of gravitational lensing, where the gravitational field of a foreground galaxy bends and amplifies the light of a more distant background galaxy. In this image the light from a distant galaxy, nearly 10 billion light-years away, has been warped into a nearly 90-degree arc of light in the galaxy cluster RCS2 032727-132623. The galaxy cluster lies 5 billion light-years away. The background galaxy’s image is not only stretched by the lensing, but split into multiple apparent images, across the upper left and at lower right. (NASA, ESA, J. Rigby, and K. Sharon, M. Gladders, and E. Wuyts, University of Chicago)

Day 23 of the 2012 Hubble Space Telescope Advent Calendar, one of 25 photos (eventually). Thanks to the presence of a natural “zoom lens” in space, this is a close-up look at one of the brightest distant “magnified” galaxies in the universe known to date. It is one of the most striking examples of gravitational lensing, where the gravitational field of a foreground galaxy bends and amplifies the light of a more distant background galaxy. In this image the light from a distant galaxy, nearly 10 billion light-years away, has been warped into a nearly 90-degree arc of light in the galaxy cluster RCS2 032727-132623. The galaxy cluster lies 5 billion light-years away. The background galaxy’s image is not only stretched by the lensing, but split into multiple apparent images, across the upper left and at lower right. (NASA, ESA, J. Rigby, and K. Sharon, M. Gladders, and E. Wuyts, University of Chicago)

December 22, 2012
Day 22 of the 2012 Hubble Space Telescope Advent Calendar, one of 25 photos (eventually).  First prize winner of the 2012 Hubble Hidden Treasures competition, image processing category. Josh Lake (USA) submitted this stunning image of NGC 1763, part of the N11 star-forming region in the Large Magellanic Cloud. ESA/Hubble had previously published an image of an area just adjacent to this, based on observations by the same team. Josh took a different approach, producing a bold two-color image which contrasts the light from glowing hydrogen and nitrogen. The image is not in natural colors — hydrogen and nitrogen produce almost indistinguishable shades of red light that our eyes would struggle to tell apart — but Josh’s processing separates them out into blue and red, dramatically highlighting the structure of the region. As well as narrowly topping the jury’s vote, Josh Lake also won the public vote. (NASA/ESA/Josh Lake)

Day 22 of the 2012 Hubble Space Telescope Advent Calendar, one of 25 photos (eventually). First prize winner of the 2012 Hubble Hidden Treasures competition, image processing category. Josh Lake (USA) submitted this stunning image of NGC 1763, part of the N11 star-forming region in the Large Magellanic Cloud. ESA/Hubble had previously published an image of an area just adjacent to this, based on observations by the same team. Josh took a different approach, producing a bold two-color image which contrasts the light from glowing hydrogen and nitrogen. The image is not in natural colors — hydrogen and nitrogen produce almost indistinguishable shades of red light that our eyes would struggle to tell apart — but Josh’s processing separates them out into blue and red, dramatically highlighting the structure of the region. As well as narrowly topping the jury’s vote, Josh Lake also won the public vote. (NASA/ESA/Josh Lake)

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December 21, 2012
Day 21 of the 2012 Hubble Space Telescope Advent Calendar, one of 25 photos (eventually). This peculiar galaxy pair is called Arp 116. Arp 116 is composed of a giant elliptical galaxy known as Messier 60 (or M60) and a much smaller spiral galaxy, NGC 4647. M60 is the third brightest galaxy in the Virgo cluster of galaxies, a collection of more than 1,300 galaxies. M60 has a diameter of 120,000 light-years, and a mass of about one trillion times that of the Sun. A huge black hole of 4.5 billion solar masses lies at its center, one of the most massive black holes ever found. The faint bluish spiral galaxy NGC 4647 is about two-thirds of M60 in size and much lower in mass — roughly the size of our galaxy, the Milky Way. Astronomers have long tried to determine whether these two galaxies are actually interacting. Although looking at them from Earth they overlap, there is no evidence of new star formation, which would be one of the clearest signs that the two galaxies are indeed interacting. However, recent studies of very detailed Hubble images suggest the onset of some tidal interaction between the two. M60 lies roughly 54 million light-years away from Earth; NGC 4647 is about 63 million light-years away. (NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration)

Day 21 of the 2012 Hubble Space Telescope Advent Calendar, one of 25 photos (eventually). This peculiar galaxy pair is called Arp 116. Arp 116 is composed of a giant elliptical galaxy known as Messier 60 (or M60) and a much smaller spiral galaxy, NGC 4647. M60 is the third brightest galaxy in the Virgo cluster of galaxies, a collection of more than 1,300 galaxies. M60 has a diameter of 120,000 light-years, and a mass of about one trillion times that of the Sun. A huge black hole of 4.5 billion solar masses lies at its center, one of the most massive black holes ever found. The faint bluish spiral galaxy NGC 4647 is about two-thirds of M60 in size and much lower in mass — roughly the size of our galaxy, the Milky Way. Astronomers have long tried to determine whether these two galaxies are actually interacting. Although looking at them from Earth they overlap, there is no evidence of new star formation, which would be one of the clearest signs that the two galaxies are indeed interacting. However, recent studies of very detailed Hubble images suggest the onset of some tidal interaction between the two. M60 lies roughly 54 million light-years away from Earth; NGC 4647 is about 63 million light-years away. (NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration)

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December 20, 2012
Day 20 of the 2012 Hubble Space Telescope Advent Calendar, one of 25 photos (eventually). Galaxies, galaxies everywhere - as far as the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope can see. This view of thousands of galaxies is the deepest visible-light image of the cosmos. part of what is called the Hubble Ultra Deep Field, this galaxy-studded view represents a “deep” core sample of the universe, cutting across billions of light-years. The snapshot includes galaxies of various ages, sizes, shapes, and colors. The smallest, reddest galaxies, about 100, may be among the most distant known, existing when the universe was just 800 million years old. The nearest galaxies - the larger, brighter, well-defined spirals and ellipticals - thrived about 1 billion years ago, when the cosmos was 13 billion years old. In vibrant contrast to the rich harvest of classic spiral and elliptical galaxies, there is a zoo of oddball galaxies littering the field. Some look like toothpicks; others like links on a bracelet. A few appear to be interacting. These oddball galaxies chronicle a period when the universe was younger and more chaotic. Order and structure were just beginning to emerge. The Ultra Deep Field observations, taken by the Advanced Camera for Surveys, represent a narrow, deep view of the cosmos. In ground-based photographs, the patch of sky in which the galaxies reside (just one-tenth the diameter of the full Moon) is largely empty. Located in the constellation Fornax, the region is so empty that only a handful of stars within the Milky Way galaxy can be seen in the image. The image required 800 exposures taken over the course of 400 Hubble orbits around Earth. The total amount of exposure time was 11.3 days, taken between Sept. 24, 2003 and Jan. 16, 2004. (NASA, ESA, and S. Beckwith (STScI) and the HUDF Team)

Day 20 of the 2012 Hubble Space Telescope Advent Calendar, one of 25 photos (eventually). Galaxies, galaxies everywhere - as far as the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope can see. This view of thousands of galaxies is the deepest visible-light image of the cosmos. part of what is called the Hubble Ultra Deep Field, this galaxy-studded view represents a “deep” core sample of the universe, cutting across billions of light-years. The snapshot includes galaxies of various ages, sizes, shapes, and colors. The smallest, reddest galaxies, about 100, may be among the most distant known, existing when the universe was just 800 million years old. The nearest galaxies - the larger, brighter, well-defined spirals and ellipticals - thrived about 1 billion years ago, when the cosmos was 13 billion years old. In vibrant contrast to the rich harvest of classic spiral and elliptical galaxies, there is a zoo of oddball galaxies littering the field. Some look like toothpicks; others like links on a bracelet. A few appear to be interacting. These oddball galaxies chronicle a period when the universe was younger and more chaotic. Order and structure were just beginning to emerge. The Ultra Deep Field observations, taken by the Advanced Camera for Surveys, represent a narrow, deep view of the cosmos. In ground-based photographs, the patch of sky in which the galaxies reside (just one-tenth the diameter of the full Moon) is largely empty. Located in the constellation Fornax, the region is so empty that only a handful of stars within the Milky Way galaxy can be seen in the image. The image required 800 exposures taken over the course of 400 Hubble orbits around Earth. The total amount of exposure time was 11.3 days, taken between Sept. 24, 2003 and Jan. 16, 2004. (NASA, ESA, and S. Beckwith (STScI) and the HUDF Team)

December 19, 2012
Day 19 of the 2012 Hubble Space Telescope Advent Calendar, one of 25 photos (eventually).  Herbig-Haro 110 is a light-year-long geyser of hot gas from a newborn star that splashes up against and ricochets from the dense core of a cloud of molecular hydrogen. This image was taken with Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys in 2004 and 2005 and the Wide Field Camera 3 in April 2011. (NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team, STScI/AURA)

Day 19 of the 2012 Hubble Space Telescope Advent Calendar, one of 25 photos (eventually). Herbig-Haro 110 is a light-year-long geyser of hot gas from a newborn star that splashes up against and ricochets from the dense core of a cloud of molecular hydrogen. This image was taken with Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys in 2004 and 2005 and the Wide Field Camera 3 in April 2011. (NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team, STScI/AURA)

December 18, 2012
Day 18 of the 2012 Hubble Space Telescope Advent Calendar, one of 25 photos (eventually).  NGC 3132 is a striking example of a planetary nebula. This expanding cloud of gas, surrounding a dying star, is known to amateur astronomers in the southern hemisphere as the “Eight-Burst” or the “Southern Ring” Nebula. (Hubble Heritage Team, STScI/AURA/NASA/ESA)

Day 18 of the 2012 Hubble Space Telescope Advent Calendar, one of 25 photos (eventually). NGC 3132 is a striking example of a planetary nebula. This expanding cloud of gas, surrounding a dying star, is known to amateur astronomers in the southern hemisphere as the “Eight-Burst” or the “Southern Ring” Nebula. (Hubble Heritage Team, STScI/AURA/NASA/ESA)

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