Month in Space Pictures: Astronaut Halloween and a Ghoulish Sun
A costumed crew on the space station, squiggly tracks on Mars, reaching for the moon and more treats from October 2017.
Launch by the Sea
An H-2A rocket carrying a Japanese navigation satellite, the Michibiki No. 4, lifts off from the Tanegashima Space Center in southwestern Japan on Oct. 10.
Repairs in Orbit
NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei waves during a spacewalk on Oct. 10 to perform repairs on the International Space Station's robotic arm.
The Milky Way galaxy hangs in the sky over the antennas of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in the desert of northern Chile on Oct. 6.
In dry areas, telescopes can see starlight that would otherwise be blocked by the atmosphere.
Speaking to the Heavens
Pope Francis talks with the crew of the International Space Station during a video conference at the Vatican on Oct. 26.
Asked by Francis about the best part of being on the space station, NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik said he enjoys the opportunity to look outside and see Earth — "God's creation" — from 240 miles above the planet's surface.
The crew of the International Space Station dresses up for Halloween on Oct. 31.
NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik, lower left, tweeted the photo, writing "Exp 53 crew would like to join with children all over the world for this one special day they can be whoever they want to be."
Clockwise from lower left: Bresnik, cosmonaut Sergey Ryazansky, Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli as Spider-Man, NASA astronaut Joseph Acaba, NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei, and cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin.
A Glimpse of the Future
This image, captured by the Hubble Space Telescope and released on Oct. 18, shows what happens when two galaxies become one. The twisted cosmic knot seen here is NGC 2623 -- or Arp 243 -- and is located about 250 million light-years away in the constellation of Cancer (The Crab).
NGC 2623 gained its unusual and distinctive shape as the result of a major collision and subsequent merger between two separate galaxies.
It is thought that the Milky Way will eventually resemble NGC 2623 when it collides with our neighboring galaxy, the Andromeda Galaxy, in four billion years time.
The moon crosses in front of the sun in this view from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory on Oct. 19. The lunar transit lasted about 45 minutes with the moon covering about 26 percent of the sun at the peak of its journey. The spacecraft has an otherwise constant view of the sun.
The image was captured in a wavelength of extreme ultraviolet light invisible to human eyes, but colorized here in green.
The Council Returns
The Space Shuttle Discovery is the backdrop as Vice President Mike Pence speaks during the inaugural meeting of the National Space Council at the National Air and Space Museum in Chantilly, Virginia, on Oct. 5.
Originally established in 1958, this was the first meeting of the council in 20 years.
Lightning from Above
NASA astronaut Jeanette Epps prepares for a spacesuit test in the vacuum chamber on Oct. 17. at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Her first spaceflight will be to the International Space Station in May 2018.
Before becoming an astronaut, Dr. Epps worked for Ford Motor Company and the CIA.
Reaching for the Moon
A child touches a glowing model of the moon created by British artist Luke Jerram at the Medical Garden in Bratislava, Slovakia, on Oct. 7 during the White Night festival.
The glowing orb features real NASA imagery of the lunar surface in stunning detail.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Oct. 9.
The Falcon 9's reusable first stage booster successfully landed on a platform in the Pacific Ocean a few minutes after liftoff.
A cloud of smoke rises from a rocket engine test at NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi on Oct. 19.
The RS-25 engine will power NASA's next-generation rocket, the Space Launch System. The rocket — the agency's most powerful rocket since the Saturn V that took astronauts to the moon in the 1960s — is designed to bring astronauts out of low Earth orbit to deep-space destinations, including the moon and possibly Mars.
Smoke rises from wildfires in Northern California in an image captured by the Copernicus Sentinel-3A satellite on Oct. 9.
Forty-two people died in fires that were fed by strong wind gusts as they burned through communities in the state's wine country.
Squiggles on Mars
Wavy lines run across the slopes of the Hellas Planitia basin in this image from NASA's Mars Reconnaisance Orbiter released on Oct. 23.
These scratch marks are linear gullies. Just like on Earth, high-latitude regions on Mars are covered with frost in the winter. However, the winter frost on Mars is made of carbon dioxide ice (dry ice) instead of water ice. NASA believes the gullies are the result of this dry ice breaking apart into blocks and sliding down the sandy slopes.
In the Launch Tower
Still in its thermal blanket, Europe's Sentinel-5P satellite is installed onto the booster unit and connected via cables to start final testing on Oct. 9 at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia.
The satellite was successfully launched on Oct. 13 and will monitor the atmosphere, mapping a multitude of gases that affect the air we breathe, our climate and human health.
A star within our own galaxy appears as a bright flash against a backdrop of glowing specks, each a different galaxy, in this image from the Hubble Space Telescope released on Oct. 27.
"One of those days at work when you get to dress up and play spaceman," wrote NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold when he tweeted this photo on Oct. 26.
A former teacher, Arnold flew to the space station aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery in 2009 and currently serves as the Assistant to the Chief for EVA and Robotics in the Astronaut Office.
NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei and Randy Bresnik work outside the International Space Station on Oct. 5.