Space photos: The most amazing images this week!

Dramatic weather phenomena are center-stage in a meteorological photo contest, a NASA astronaut casts an election ballot from space and Hubble captures an image of a stellar nursery. These are some of the top photos this week from Space.com. 

Voting from space

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins points to a sign on the International Space Station reading "ISS Voting Booth" in a photo she shared while announcing that she had voted from space.

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins points to a sign on the International Space Station reading “ISS Voting Booth” in a photo she shared while announcing that she had voted from space. (Image credit: NASA/Kate Rubins via Twitter)

”From the International Space Station, I voted today,” NASA astronaut Kate Rubins wrote in a tweet posted on Oct. 22. Rubins arrived at the orbiting laboratory on Oct. 14 and will stay in space for about six and a half months. Rubins is currently the only American in space. 

Full story: US astronaut votes early from space station

Peculiar cloud over Argentine mountains

An eerie lenticular cloud forms over El Chalten mountain in Argentina (Image credit: Francisco Javier Negroni Rodriguez)

A round saucer-shaped cloud hovers over the peaks on El Chaltén in southern Argentina in this photograph by Francisco Javier Negroni Rodriguez. This shot is a finalist in the Royal Meteorological Society’s (RMS) 2020 Weather Photographer of the Year contest. This weather phenomenon is common over certain mountainous regions where high-speeds ricochet over a tall peak. 

Full story: Ghostly ‘UFO cloud’ hovering over mountains wows judges in weather photo contest

California fire damage

The Operational Land Imager on Landsat 8 captured this image on Sept. 26, 2020, showing the extent of the wildfire damage. (Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory)

The Operational Land Imager instrument on the Landsat 8 satellite captured this image on Sept. 26, 2020. The eerie picture of California’s Bay Area shows the vast extent of the wildfire damage: the darker colors represent nearly total loss of living vegetation. The lighter tans regions are where some trees and plants survived a severe fire. 

Full story: Severe burn damage from California wildfires seen from space

‘The red terror’

This contest finalist captures a tornado tearing through rural Colorado. Photographer Tori Jane Ostberg calls it “the red terror.” (Image credit: Tori Jane Ostberg)

This image captures a tornado raging through rural Colorado. Photographer Tori Jane Ostberg calls it “the red terror.” This image was a finalist in the Royal Meteorological Society’s (RMS) 2020 Weather Photographer of the Year contest

Full story: Ghostly ‘UFO cloud’ hovering over mountains wows judges in weather photo contest

‘Mole’ may start digging again in 2021

NASA’s InSight retracted its robotic arm on Oct. 3, 2020, revealing where the spike-like “mole” is trying to burrow into Mars. The copper-colored ribbon attached to the mole has sensors to measure the planet’s heat flow. In the coming months, the arm will scrape and tamp down soil on top of the mole to help it dig.  (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA’s InSight Mars lander retracted its robotic arm on Oct. 3, 2020, revealing where the “mole” (InSight’s heat probe) is trying to burrow. The ribbon attached to the mole has sensors to measure the planet’s heat flow. In the coming months, the arm will scrape and tamp down soil on top of the mole to help it dig. 

Full story: The oft-stuck ‘mole’ on NASA’s InSight Mars lander may start digging again next year

Juice grows a pair of wings

The ten solar panels for the European Space Agency’s Juice (Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer) spacecraft are ready to be turned into solar wings. The panels arrived at Airbus Defense and Space in the Netherlands and, with five solar panels on each side of the spacecraft, the panels will fold up inside the launcher and then eventually deploy like wings for the probe.  (Image credit: Airbus Defence and Space Netherlands)

The ten solar panels for the European Space Agency’s Juice (Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer) spacecraft are ready to be turned into solar wings. The panels arrived at Airbus Defense and Space in the Netherlands and, with five solar panels on each side of the spacecraft, the panels will fold up inside the launcher and then eventually deploy like wings for the probe.

Stars of Orion twinkle over ALMA

The constellation of Orion, the hunter sparkles above the  Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile’s Atacama Desert in this image by European Southern Observatory photo ambassador Yuri Beletsky. Two of the 66 radio telescopes that make up the array are shown in this view. Located on top of the 16,000-foot (5,000 meters) Chajnantor plateau, ALMA’s location provides the dark, dry skies that are crucial for observing the cosmos in millimeter and submillimeter wavelengths. (Image credit: Y. Beletsky (LCO)/ESO)

The constellation of Orion, the hunter sparkles above the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile’s Atacama Desert in this image by European Southern Observatory photo ambassador Yuri Beletsky. Two of the 66 radio telescopes that make up ALMA are shown in this view. Located on top of the 16,000-foot (5,000 meters) Chajnantor plateau, ALMA’s location provides the dark, dry skies that are crucial for observing the cosmos in millimeter and submillimeter wavelengths. — Hanneke Weitering

Collecting an asteroid

A series of 16 images show the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft’s view of its sampling maneuver on asteroid Bennu on Oct. 20, 2020. (Image credit: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)

In this 16-image series, you can see NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft using its 11-foot robotic arm TAGSAM taking a sample from asteroid Bennu on Oct. 20, 2020. The arm’s “head” briefly touched down on the asteroid’s surface, where it emitted a puff of nitrogen gas. This gas stirred up asteroid material that was then collected into a container in TAGSAM.

A free-floating stellar nursery

The Hubble Space Telescope, which celebrated its 30th year of exploration and discovery earlier this year, snapped this image of the star-forming nursery formerly known as J025157.5+600606. This special type of stellar nursery is what’s known as  a “Free-floating Evaporating Gaseous Globules” or frEGGs.  (Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, R. Sahai)

The Hubble Space Telescope, which celebrated its 30th year of exploration and discovery earlier this year, snapped this image of the star-forming nursery formerly known as J025157.5+600606. This special type of stellar nursery is what’s known as a “Free-floating Evaporating Gaseous Globules” or frEGGs.

Chris Cassidy returns home

(Image credit: NASA/GCTC/Denis Derevtsov)

NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy landed back on Earth Oct. 22, 2020 after a stint aboard the International Space Station. Cassidy can be seen here outside the Soyuz MS-16 spacecraft that he and his crewmates, cosmonauts Ivan Vagner and Anatoly Ivanishin, landed in near the town of Zhezkazgan in Kazakhstan.

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