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A daily newsletter charting the future: From technology to the scientific breakthroughs changing our lives.



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.

 / Updated 20 PHOTOS
Image: An H-2A rocket carrying Japan's fourth and final quasi-zenith satellite, the Michibiki No. 4, lifts off from the Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture

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.

Kyodo via Reuters
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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. 

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Desert Nights

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.

D. Kordan/ESO
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Image: Pope Francis talks with crew members of the International Space Station, ISS Expedition 53, during an audio-video connection at the Vatican

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.

Osservatore Romano / Reuters
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Image: Space station

Monkey Cage

Russian cosmonaut Sergey Ryazansky wears a monkey costume in the cupola of the International Space Station on Oct. 31.
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Image: Space Station

Happy Halloween!

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.

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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. 

ESA/Hubble & NASA
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Lunar Transit

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. 

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Image: VP Mike Pence convenes First-Ever Meeting Of National Space Council

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. 

Mark Wilson / Getty Images
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Lightning from Above

A flash of lightning appears as a white glow in the image captured by Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli from the International Space Station on Oct. 27.
Paolo Nespoli / ESA/NASA
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Mission Prep

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. 

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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.

Joe Klamar / AFP - Getty Images
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Image: SpaceX Launch


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. 

Gene Blevins / Los Angeles Daily News via Zuma Press
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Engine Test

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.

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Fires Below

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. 

PHOTOS: Families Salvage Treasures in the Ashes of Their Homes

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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. 

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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. 


Stephane Corvaja
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Galactic Vision

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.


AFP - Getty Images
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Spaceman Costume

"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. 

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NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei and Randy Bresnik work outside the International Space Station on Oct. 5. 

Month in Space Pictures: Sept. 2017

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