Love them or hate them, you have to admit the National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA) has delivered some amazing photos during the course of its existence. A fair number of those images are available online for the curious astronomers in the crowd. I spent some time trolling through a couple of different catalogs and could have been lost for hours if my deadline were not looming!
What follows are 30 examples of the fine imagery NASA has released from its various programs; from the Hubble Space Telescope to its land based brethren, from rovers on Mars to satellites passing by various planets in our solar system. And even some photos taken by humans during their time above our planet. So sit back and enjoy a brief tour around our galaxy and beyond.
All photographs are Copyright NASA. Clicking on any image will take you to NASA's website for more information on each individual photo.
Emerging through smoke and steam, the Boeing Delta II rocket carrying NASAs Deep Impact spacecraft lifts off at 1:47 p.m. EST, Jaunuary 15th, 2005 from Launch Pad 17-B, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.
A GLOWING POOL OF LIGHT - 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
NGC 281 is a bustling hub of star formation about 10,000 light years away. This composite image of optical and X-ray emission includes regions where new stars are forming and older regions containing stars about 3 million years old.
Apollo 15 Lunar Module pilot James B. Irwin loads-up the "Rover", Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV) with tools and equipment in preparation for the first lunar extravehicular activity (EVA-1) at the Hadley-Apennine landing site.
This majestic false-color image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope shows the "mountains" where stars are born. Dubbed "Mountains of Creation" by Spitzer scientists, these towering pillars of cool gas and dust are illuminated at their tips with light from warm embryonic stars.
In one of the first images transmitted to Earth following MESSENGER's second Mercury flyby, a full-planet departure view showed a crater in the northern region near the planet's limb with an impressively large system of rays.
This view of the rising Earth greeted the Apollo 8 astronauts as they came from behind the Moon after the lunar orbit insertion burn. The photo is displayed here in its original orientation, though it is more commonly viewed with the lunar surface at the bottom of the photo.
This NASA Hubble Space Telescope image of the Trifid Nebula reveals a stellar nursery being torn apart by radiation from a nearby, massive star. The picture also provides a peek at embryonic stars forming within an ill-fated cloud of dust and gas, which is destined to be eaten away by the glare from the massive neighbor.
New Horizons took this image of the icy moon Europa rising above Jupiter's cloud tops with its Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) at 11:48 Universal Time on February 28, 2007, six hours after the spacecraft's closest approach to Jupiter.
Astronomers, using the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 on board NASA's Hubble Space Telescope in October and November 1997 and April 1999, imaged the Bubble Nebula (NGC 7635) with unprecedented clarity.
Hubble Space Telescope (HST) image shows the thin sheets of gas at the edge of the Great Nebula in the constellation of Orion.
The cresent Earth rises above the lunar horizon in this photograph taken from the Apollo 17 spacecraft in lunar orbit during NASA's final lunar landing mission in the Apollo program.
Space Photography for the Amateur
Thinking that space photography is something completely out of your league, reserved only for those with expensive telescopes and orbiting cameras? Think again!
We'll leave you today with this fantastic video documentary about a father and son who managed to put an iPhone camera in space and safely return it to earth again!