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Month in Space: November 2016

The oldest woman in space, cavenauts explore lava tubes and more of November's best space pictures.

A woman walks with her child past a Soyuz rocket, installed as a monument at the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome, the world's first and largest operational space launch facility, in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, on Nov. 12. Dmitri Lovetsky / AP
NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson sits for a hair cut on Nov. 14, 2016 at the Cosmonaut Hotel in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. Whitson was preparing for a six-month stay at the International Space Station. Bill Ingalls / NASA

A supermoon rises behind the Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft at the launch pad in Baikonur, Kazakhstan on Nov. 14 a few days ahead of Peggy Whitson's launch.

PHOTOS: Stunning Views of the Supermoon

YURI KOCHETKOV / EPA

From left, NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky and France's astronaut Thomas Pesquet wave to the crowd at the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in Baikonur, prior to blasting off to the International Space Station on Nov. 17.

When Whitson and her fellow crew members blasted off toward the International Space Station she became the oldest female astronaut in the world to fly into space. Whitson will turn 57 aboard the orbiting complex.

PHOTOS: U.S. Astronaut Becomes the Oldest Woman in Space

KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP - Getty Images
The Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft carrying the next crew to the International Space Station blasts off from the launchpad at the Baikonur cosmodrome on Nov. 18. SHAMIL ZHUMATOV / Reuters
Astronaut Peggy Whitson tweeted this photo of herself at the International Space Station on Nov. 29, saying, "Gotta love zero gravity!" NASA

ESA astronauts Luca Parmitano and Pedro Duque and ESA scientist Matthias Maurer explore a lave tube in the Canary Islands to simulate a planetary mission in an image released on Nov. 13.

Lava tubes have been spotted on both the moon and Mars. Being underground structures, they are good shelters from radiation. They may contain subsurface water, and therefore be interesting in the search for extraterrestrial microbial life.

Luca Ricci
An Ariane 5 rocket lifts off carrying four Galileo satellites from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, on Nov. 17. Stephane Corvaja / ESA

The Milky Way hangs over the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope in Chile in an image released on Nov. 15. The tiny silver shapes on the distant Cerro Paranal mountain are the VLT's Unit Telescopes and smaller Auxiliary Telescopes. This image is taken from the nearby mountain that is home to another of ESO's facilities.

Y. Beletsky / ESO
The blast trail of China's heavy-lift rocket Long March-5 lights up the sky as it launches from Wenchang in south China. China launched its most powerful rocket ever as the country presses on with a program which has seen it become a major space power. AFP - Getty Images

The International Space Station Expedition 50 crew gathers around the dining table in the Zvezda module for a Thanksgiving dinner on Nov. 25.

ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet (third from right) posted this image on social media, commenting: "The crew of Expedition 50 wishes you a happy Thanksgiving! And yes it's turkey we're eating, can't you tell?"

Thomas arrived at the ISS on Nov. 19 with NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, back right, and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky, left. They were welcomed on board by NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough, right front, and cosmonauts Andrei Borisenko and Sergei Ryzhikov (secaond and third from left).

ESA

A man and his dog are silhouetted by a supermoon on a hill behind Shadow Mountain Sports Complex in Sparks, Nevada, on Nov. 14.

The brightest, biggest moon in almost 69 years lit up the sky in a treat for star watchers around the globe. A supermoon occurs when there is a full moon on the same days it is in perigee, which is the closest point in the moon's orbit to Earth. Supermoons can be 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter than an ordinary full moon, according to NASA.

Month in Space: October 2016

Andy Barron / The Reno Gazette-Journal via AP