13 of the Most Popular Photos in NASA’s Archive


NASA revamped its Image and Video Library website in 2017 to make a massive trove of free imagery available to the public in high resolution. Here’s a look at 20 of the most popular shots in NASA’s photo collection.

#1. Earth

“Behold one of the more detailed images of the Earth yet created. This Blue Marble Earth montage shown above — created from photographs taken by the Visible/Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) instrument on board the new Suomi NPP satellite — shows many stunning details of our home planet.”

#2. Milky Way

“In this spectacular image, observations using infrared light and X-ray light see through the obscuring dust and reveal the intense activity near the galactic core. Note that the center of the galaxy is located within the bright white region to the right of and just below the middle of the image. The entire image width covers about one-half a degree, about the same angular width as the full moon.”

#3. Jupiter’s Auroras

“Astronomers are using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope to study auroras — stunning light shows in a planet’s atmosphere — on the poles of the largest planet in the solar system, Jupiter. […] Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system, is best known for its colorful storms, the most famous being the Great Red Spot. Now astronomers have focused on another beautiful feature of the planet, using Hubble’s ultraviolet capabilities. The extraordinary vivid glows shown in the new observations are known as auroras. They are created when high-energy particles enter a planet’s atmosphere near its magnetic poles and collide with atoms of gas.”

#4. The Sword of Orion

“This image from NASA Spitzer Space Telescope shows the Orion nebula, our closest massive star-making factory, 1,450 light-years from Earth. The nebula is close enough to appear to the naked eye as a fuzzy star in the sword of the constellation.”

#5. Pathfinder on Mars

A view of the Martian landscape shot by NASA’s Pathfinder rover on December 12th, 1997.

#6. Earth and the Moon from a Million Miles Away

“This animation still image shows the far side of the moon, illuminated by the sun, as it crosses between the DISCOVR spacecraft’s Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) camera and telescope, and the Earth – one million miles away.”

#7. Andromeda Galaxy

“This image is from NASA Galaxy Evolution Explorer is an observation of the large galaxy in Andromeda, Messier 31. The Andromeda galaxy is the most massive in the local group of galaxies that includes our Milky Way.”

#8. Thermal Protection System Testing

A photo of NASA testing the Crew Escape Vehicle Thermal Protection System.

#9. Mystic Mountain

“NASA Hubble Space Telescope captures the chaotic activity atop a three-light-year-tall pillar of gas and dust that is being eaten away by the brilliant light from nearby bright stars in a tempestuous stellar nursery called the Carina Nebula.”

#10. First American Space Walk

“Astronaut Edward H. White II, pilot on the Gemini-Titan 4 spaceflight, is shown during his egress from the spacecraft. His face is covered by a shaded visor to protect him from the unfiltered rays of the sun. White became the first American astronaut to walk in space. He remained outside the spacecraft for 21 minutes during the third revolution of the Gemini-4 mission.”

#11. A Salute on the Moon

“Astronaut John W. Young, commander of the Apollo 16 lunar landing mission, leaps from the lunar surface as he salutes the United States flag at the Descartes landing site during the first Apollo 16 extravehicular activity (EVA).”

#12. Buttes on Mars

“This view from the Mast Camera (Mastcam) in NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover shows an outcrop with finely layered rocks within the “Murray Buttes” region on lower Mount Sharp. The buttes and mesas rising above the surface in this area are eroded remnants of ancient sandstone that originated when winds deposited sand after lower Mount Sharp had formed. “

#13. Earthrise

“This view from the Apollo 11 spacecraft shows the Earth rising above the moon’s horizon. The lunar terrain pictured is in the area of Smyth’s Sea on the nearside.”

If you’d like to browse the NASA collection for yourself, head on over to the NASA Image and Video Library. Be warned, though: it’s a black hole of eye-popping imagery that’ll suck you in and make you lose your sense of time.

(via NASA via Colossal)



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