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Week's Best Space Pictures: Hubble's Birthday Portrait
By Jane J. Lee,
National Geographic News, 24 April 2015.

Astronauts spy an approaching spacecraft and satellites capture a cyclone in this week's best space pictures.

1. Happy Birthday, Hubble

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Photograph by NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), A. Nota (ESA/STScI), and the
Westerlund 2 Science Team

To celebrate the Hubble Space Telescope's 25th anniversary on Friday, NASA released this Hubble view of young stars flaring to life. To capture the image, Hubble peered through the dust surrounding a stellar nursery in in the constellation Carina.

2. Blue Marble

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A composite of six images taken by a NASA satellite, this view of South Africa (top left) showcases many of the colours that swirl together on our planet. Tropical cyclone Joalane (top right) batters the Indian Ocean.

3. Himalaya From On High

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Astronauts on board the International Space Station snapped a picture of part of the Himalaya mountain range (top) as the station orbited over the area. A network of gullies (middle) highlight the route meltwater takes on its journey to the sea.

4. Taking Delivery

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Astronauts Samantha Cristoforetti and Scott Kelly are caught in a reflection from an approaching Dragon spacecraft as it prepares to dock with the International Space Station. The spacecraft carried food and equipment for scientific experiments.

5. Mercury in Colour

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NASA's Messenger mission to Mercury collected hundreds of colour mosaics of the planet for later analysis. The image above shows three craters with blue rims, which indicate they're made of material that reflects relatively little light.

6. A Cosmic Oddity

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The sparkly smear across the middle of the image is the ESO 162-17 galaxy. It's known in astronomical circles as a "peculiar galaxy." These galaxies have an odd shape, an unusual amount of gas or dust, or a strange composition.

Top image: Hubble Space Telescope's 25th anniversary image. Credit: NASA, ESA, G. Bacon, L. Frattare, Z. Levay, and F. Summers (Viz3D Team, STScI), and J. Anderson (STScI), via Hubble Space Telescope YouTube screen capture.

[Source: National Geographic News. Edited. Top image and some links added.]

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