The European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope captured this view of a star-forming region in the Large Magellanic Cloud, one of the Milky Way's satellite galaxies. This sharp image, released Aug. 7, shows two glowing clouds of gas. NGC 2014 (right) is irregularly shaped and red. Its neighbor, NGC 2020, is round and blue. These odd and very different forms were both sculpted by the powerful stellar winds thrown off from extremely hot newborn stars.
A Japanese H-2B rocket carrying cargo for the International Space Station rises from its launch pad at the Tanegashima Space Center on Aug. 4. The rocket sent up an HTV cargo vehicle, known as "Kounotori," which means "stork." Kounotori 4's cargo included a small talking robot named Kirobo.
The U.S. Air Force's Wideband Global Satcom (WGS-6) mission lifts off on a United Launch Alliance Delta 4 rocket from Space Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Aug. 7. The rocket carried a communications satellite for the U.S. military and its partners, including Australia, which paid for the spacecraft and launch services.
Members of NASA's newest astronaut class smile for the cameras at Johnson Space Center in Houston on Aug. 20 with a mockup of the Orion crew capsule in the background. Pictured in the back row, from left: Tyler (Nick) Hague, Jessica Meir, Christina Hammock, Nicole Mann and Victor Glover. Pictured in the front row: Andrew Morgan, Anne McClain and Josh Cassada. This is the first class of astronauts to have as many women as men.
An extreme ultraviolet image of the sun, captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory on Aug. 21, seems to show a pair of dark eyes and a wry grin. The dark areas are called coronal holes. They're places where very little radiation is emitted, but they're also the main source of solar wind particles.
Japan's talking mini-robot, Kirobo, undergoes a zero-gravity flight test with the robot's developer, Tomotaka Takahashi (left) and Toyota Motors' Fuminori Kataoka (right). Toyota provided the voice-recognition software for the Kirobo project, which came to a head with the robot's launch to the International Space Station on Aug. 4.
NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio attends a training exercise at Russia's Star City cosmonaut center on Aug. 7. Mastracchio is scheduled to take a ride to the International Space Station in a Russian Soyuz capsule in November 2013.
An Aug. 19 image shows the newly discovered Herbig-Haro object HH 46/47, a newborn star with a large energetic jet. Part of the jet (shown here in orange and green) can't be seen in visible light due to dust and gas, while another part of the jet (in pink and purple) shines in visible light. The image was created by combining radio observations made by the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, or ALMA, with visible-light observations from the European Southern Observatory's New Technology Telescope.
An image from the Hubble Space Telescope, released on Aug. 8, shows a long ribbon of gas called the Magellanic Stream that stretches nearly halfway around the Milky Way. In this combined radio and visible-light image, the gaseous stream is shown in pink. The radio observations are taken from the Leiden/Argentine/Bonn Survey. The Milky Way is the light blue band in the center of the image. The brown clumps are interstellar dust clouds in our galaxy. The Magellanic Clouds, satellite galaxies of the Milky Way, are the white regions at bottom right.
NASA astronaut Michael Hopkins (left) takes his seat alongside Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy during a training session at Russia's Star City cosmonaut center on Aug. 23. Hopkins, Kotov and Ryazanskiy are scheduled to be part of a mission to the International Space Station that will launch in September.
A frosty crater in Mars' northern hemisphere shows signs of gully activity, as seen in this image captured by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and published on Aug. 21. Changing gullies are more typically documented in Mars' southern hemisphere, where a greater thickness of carbon dioxide frost forms in the winter.
The aurora's green glow blends with the orange glow of light reflected off clouds to produce a colorful skyscape for late summer near Whitehorse in Canada's Yukon. Photographer Jonathan Tucker captured the scene on the night of Aug. 15-16.
NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg, an accomplished quilter, spends some of her Saturday down time on Aug. 3 in her "sewing space" on the International Space Station.
This picture of California's devastating Rim Fire was acquired Aug. 23 by the Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer on NASA's Terra satellite, showing extensive, brownish smoke. The imaged area measures 236 by 215 miles (380 by 346 kilometers).
Hundreds of skywatchers enjoy the Perseid meteor shower early Aug. 12 near the town of Atalayita in the Canary Islands. Every year in August, Earth passes through the trail of debris left behind by Comet Swift-Tuttle, creating the Perseid meteor display.
Astrophotographer Randy Halverson captured this shot of a Perseid meteor streak against the backdrop of the Milky Way in Wyoming's Red Desert on Aug. 11. For more of Halverson's work, check out DakotaLapse.com.
Russian cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin works outside the International Space Station during a nearly six-hour-long spacewalk on Aug. 22. Misurkin and Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin (out of frame) completed the replacement of a laser communications experiment with a new platform for a small optical camera system. They also installed some new spacewalk aids and inspected the station's antenna covers.
The weather forecast for Saturn's north pole: storms. Lots and lots of storms. In this picture, acquired by NASA's Cassini orbiter on June 14 and released on Aug. 5, the area around the hexagon-shaped cloud structure in Saturn's north polar region is filled with storms of many sizes.
A full moon sets over Forest Park in Portland, Ore., on Aug. 21. This was considered a "blue moon" because it was the third of four full moons in the summer season. Such an occurrence happens only once in a ... well, you know.
Sierra Nevada Corp.'s Dream Chaser test spacecraft dangles in the air at the end of a helicopter cable during a "captive carry" flight test on Aug. 22 over NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in California. Sierra Nevada is developing the space plane with NASA's help, in hopes that it will someday be used to carry astronauts and cargo to and from the International Space Station.
Candy Torres is photographed standing in front of the Shuttlecraft Galileo from the 1960s television show "Star Trek," while holding her toy model of the vehicle at Space Center Houston on July 31. The restored shuttlecraft, which crash-landed on a hostile planet in a 1967 TV episode titled "The Galileo Seven," was officially unveiled at the visitors center before a crowd of die-hard Star Trek fans.
Sailors assigned to the amphibious transport dock ship USS Arlington practice bringing an Orion space capsule into the ship's well deck on Aug. 13, as part of NASA's first key Orion stationary recovery test at Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia. NASA is partnering with the U.S. Navy to develop procedures to recover the Orion capsule and its crew after splashdown.
An Aug. 9 picture from the International Space Station shows the Japanese robotic cargo spaceship HTV-4, also called Kounotori 4 ("White Stork' in Japanese), caught by the Canadian robotic arm during its docking at the station. The cargo craft was launched into orbit atop a Japanese H-2B rocket several days earlier.
Star trails form over yurts, the traditional nomad felt tents, in a long-exposure picture taken on Kazakhstan's mountainous Assy plateau, about 2,500 meters (8,202 feet) above sea level, on July 31. Modern farmers follow the centuries-old nomadic tradition of relocating from settlements to the plateau to tend their livestock for the summer season.