Month in Space: February 2015
Catch a sunny view of a spacewalk, lovely launches and other outer-space highlights from February 2015.
An uncrewed SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Feb. 11, 2015. The rocket sent the Deep Space Climate Observatory, or DSCOVR, on a journey to a solar-storm lookout point a million miles away.
A plume of flame and smoke streams behind a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket after its launch from Cape Canaveral on Feb. 11. The satellite sent the Deep Space Climate Observatory, or DSCOVR, into orbit. When DSCOVR takes up its position at a gravitational balance point between Earth and the sun, it will provide advance warning of solar storms - and also send back full-disk views of Earth from deep space.
The International Space Station's astronauts enjoy a quick zero-G snack in the Japanese Experiment Module on Feb. 5. Payloads on the Japanese Exposed Facility, or JEM-EF, can be seen out the window. The JEM-EF is an external platform that can hold up to 10 experiment payloads at a time.
A photo taken during a Feb. 21 spacewalk shows NASA astronaut Barry Wilmore at work outside the International Space Station. Fellow spacewalker Terry Virts, who snapped the "selfie," is seen reflected in Wilmore's visor. This was the first of three spacewalks aimed at preparing the station for future arrivals by U.S. commercial crew spacecraft.
NASA astronaut Terry Virts works to complete a cable routing task at the International Space Station while the sun peeks over Earth's horizon on Feb. 21. Virts and fellow astronaut Barry "Butch" Wilmore routed more than 300 feet of cable to prepare the station for the future arrival of commercial U.S. crew spaceships.
The leftovers of a supernova explosion that took place 4,500 years earlier still glow brightly in this color-coded image from NASA's Chandra X-Ray Observatory. This object, known as G299.2-2.9, belongs to a particular class of supernovas called Type Ia. Astronomers think that a Type Ia supernova involves a thermonuclear explosion and the release of vast amounts of energy. In this image, Chandra's X-ray view has been combined with optical and infrared data.
A skywatcher takes pictures with the crescent moon and the planets Venus and Mars visible in the sky over central Bosnia, just after sunset on Feb. 20.
SpaceX's Dragon cargo capsule hangs at the end of the International Space Station's robotic arm in a picture taken out the window and tweeted by Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti. The uncrewed Dragon left the station on Feb. 10.
A Feb. 10 photo taken from the International Space Station shows SpaceX's uncrewed Dragon cargo craft flying below, with Earth's land and sea as a backdrop. The Dragon was recovered successfully after a Pacific Ocean splashdown.
This visible-light image, captured on Jan. 24 by the Hubble Space Telescope's Wide Field Camera 3, shows three of Jupiter's largest moons backdropped by the giant planet's banded face. Europa has entered the frame at lower left with slower-moving Callisto above and to the right of it. The moon Io, which orbits significantly closer to Jupiter, is approaching the eastern limb of the planet. A three-moon transit like this one is visible from Earth only once or twice a decade, astronomers say.
This photo, provided by the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, shows a NASA Terrier-Black Brant research rocket that was launched before dawn on Feb. 25. The rocket deployed an experiment focusing on ionization in space, and the resulting "pink cloud" was visible from a wide swath of New Mexico and Arizona.
A Jan. 30 photo taken by Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti shows the view from the International Space Station, with some of the station's hardware in the foreground. The scene is dominated by the Gulf of Aden, the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.
A dark filament snakes across the lower half of the sun in an image captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory on Feb. 10. The observatory's ultraviolet view shows cooler material as dark, and hotter material as light, so the filament is an enormous swatch of cooler material hovering in the sun's coronal atmosphere. NASA says the filament is more than 533,000 miles long, or longer than 67 Earths lined up in a row.
This self-portrait of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows the vehicle at the "Mojave" site, where its drill collected the mission's second rock sample from the base of Mount Sharp. The scene combines dozens of images taken during January 2015 by the Mars Hand Lens Imager at the end of the rover's robotic arm. The view does not include the arm itself. The arm was positioned out of the shot in the images that were used in this mosaic. Mount Sharp's summit can be seen toward the left side of the image, and the rim of Gale Crater is at right.
The galaxy cluster SDSS J1038+4849 is the focal point of this image from the Hubble Space Telescope. The massive cluster serves as a light-bending gravitational lens, and as a result, it seems to be smiling. The two eyes of this "happy face" are very bright galaxies, and the smile lines are arcs of light from more distant galaxies. The space-time warp is consistent with Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity - which was published 100 years ago in 1915.
A long-exposure photo shows a United Launch Alliance Delta 2 rocket streaking away from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Jan. 31. The launch sent NASA's Soil Moisture Active Passive observatory into orbit. SMAP is NASA's first Earth-observing satellite designed to collect global observations of surface soil moisture and its freeze/thaw state.
•See last month's space slideshow