NASA rebooting its search for life beyond Earth thanks to exoplanets

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How Exoplanets Rebooted NASA's Search for Life Beyond Earth

NASA announced a huge cooperative effort to analyze other worlds for possible life this week.

The Nexus for Exoplanet System Science, or NExSS, will bring together scientists from three different NASA research centers, the SETI Institute and teams at 10 different universities. The initiative is the agency's first foray into looking for extraterrestrial intelligence in years.

NASA hasn't funded that goal since 1992, when it deployed the High Resolution Microwave Survey to search for extraterrestrial transmissions. Congress killed its budget less than a year later. The nonprofit SETI Institute has maintained the search since, using independently funded tools such as the Allen Telescope Array.

But NASA's new NExSS initiative is focused more on life than intelligent life, using verifiable scientific data from a relatively new field: the study of exoplanets, which orbit stars other than our own.

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NASA rebooting its search for life beyond Earth thanks to exoplanets

By pushing NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope to its limits, an international team of astronomers has shattered the cosmic distance record by measuring the farthest galaxy ever seen in the universe. This surprisingly bright infant galaxy, named GN-z11, is seen as it was 13.4 billion years in the past, just 400 million years after the Big Bang. GN-z11 is located in the direction of the constellation of Ursa Major.

(Photo via NASA)

This image, taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, shows a peculiar galaxy known as NGC 1487, lying about 30 million light-years away in the southern constellation of Eridanus.

Rather than viewing it as a celestial object, it is actually better to think of this as an event. Here, we are witnessing two or more galaxies in the act of merging together to form a single new galaxy. Each galaxy has lost almost all traces of its original appearance, as stars and gas have been thrown by gravity in an elaborate cosmic whirl.

Unless one is very much bigger than the other, galaxies are always disrupted by the violence of the merging process. As a result, it is very difficult to determine precisely what the original galaxies looked like and, indeed, how many of them there were. In this case, it is possible that we are seeing the merger of several dwarf galaxies that were previously clumped together in a small group.

Although older yellow and red stars can be seen in the outer regions of the new galaxy, its appearance is dominated by large areas of bright blue stars, illuminating the patches of gas that gave them life. This burst of star formation may well have been triggered by the merger.

(Photo via ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt, Caption via European Space Agency)

These blue-white stars are burning their hydrogen fuel so ferociously they will explode as supernovae in just a few million years. The combination of outflowing stellar “winds” and, ultimately, supernova blast waves will carve out cavities in nearby clouds of gas and dust. These fireworks will kick-start the beginning of a new generation of stars in an ongoing cycle of star birth and death.

(Photo via NASA, ESA, and J. Maíz Apellániz (Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia, Spain), Acknowledgment: N. Smith (University of Arizona))

Most galaxies possess a majestic spiral or elliptical structure. About a quarter of galaxies, though, defy such conventional, rounded aesthetics, instead sporting a messy, indefinable shape. Known as irregular galaxies, this group includes NGC 5408, the galaxy that has been snapped here by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

(Photo: ESA/Hubble & NASA)

The galaxy resembles a giant maelstrom of glowing gas, rippled with dark dust that swirls inwards towards the nucleus. Messier 96 is a very asymmetric galaxy; its dust and gas are unevenly spread throughout its weak spiral arms, and its core is not exactly at the galactic center. Its arms are also asymmetrical, thought to have been influenced by the gravitational pull of other galaxies within the same group as Messier 96.

(Photo: ESA/Hubble & NASA and the LEGUS) 

It would be reasonable to think of this as a single abnormal galaxy, and it was originally classified as such. However, it is in fact a “new” galaxy in the process of forming. Two separate galaxies have been gradually drawn together, attracted by gravity, and have collided. We now see them merging into a single structure.

(Photo: ESA/Hubble & NASA)

Most Distant Galaxy Candidate Ever Seen in Universe

The farthest and one of the very earliest galaxies ever seen in the universe appears as a faint red blob in this ultra-deep–field exposure taken with NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. This is the deepest infrared image taken of the universe. Based on the object's color, astronomers believe it is 13.2 billion light-years away.

(Photo Credit: NASA, ESA, G. Illingworth (University of California, Santa Cruz), R. Bouwens (University of California, Santa Cruz and Leiden University), and the HUDF09 Team) 

(Photo: ESA/Hubble & NASA)

The Veil Nebula, left behind by the explosion of a massive star thousands of years ago, is one of the largest and most spectacular supernova remnants in the sky. This is only a small section of it.

(Photo credit: NASA, ESA and the Hubble Heritage)

A ribbon of gas, a very thin section of a supernova remnant caused by a stellar explosion that occurred more than 1,000 years ago, floats in our galaxy. The supernova that created it was probably the brightest star ever seen by humans.

(Photo credit: NASA, ESA & the Hubble Heritage team)

This image from Hubble’s Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 showcases NGC 1501, a complex planetary nebula located in the large but faint constellation of Camelopardalis (The Giraffe).

Discovered by William Herschel in 1787, NGC 1501 is a planetary nebula that is just under 5,000 light-years away from us. Astronomers have modeled the three-dimensional structure of the nebula, finding it to be a cloud shaped as an irregular ellipsoid filled with bumpy and bubbly regions. It has a bright central star that can be seen easily in this image, shining brightly from within the nebula’s cloud. This bright pearl embedded within its glowing shell inspired the nebula’s popular nickname: the Oyster Nebula.

(Photo: ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgement: Marc Canale)

At first glance, Jupiter looks like it has a mild case of the measles. Five spots – one colored white, one blue, and three black – are scattered across the upper half of the planet. Closer inspection by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope reveals that these spots are actually a rare alignment of three of Jupiter's largest moons – Io, Ganymede, and Callisto – across the planet's face. In this image, the telltale signatures of this alignment are the shadows [the three black circles] cast by the moons. Io's shadow is located just above center and to the left; Ganymede's on the planet's left edge; and Callisto's near the right edge. Only two of the moons, however, are visible in this image. Io is the white circle in the center of the image, and Ganymede is the blue circle at upper right. Callisto is out of the image and to the right.

(Photo: NASA, ESA and  E. Karkoschka) 

This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image shows the region around a star known as R Sculptoris, a red giant located 1,500 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Sculptor. Recent observations have shown that the material surrounding R Sculptoris actually forms a spiral structure — a phenomenon probably caused by a hidden companion star orbiting the star. Systems with multiple stars often lead to unusual or unexpected morphologies, as seen, for example, in the wide range of striking planetary nebulae that Hubble has imaged.

(Photo: ESA/Hubble & NASA)

This image shows the center of the globular cluster Messier 22, also known as M22, as observed by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. Globular clusters are spherical collections of densely packed stars, relics of the early years of the Universe, with ages of typically 12 to 13 billion years. This is very old considering that the Universe is only 13.8 billion years old.

(Photo: ESA/Hubble & NASA)

In a nearby galaxy called the Small Magellanic Cloud, young stars are spewing radiation that’s eating away at the cloud of gas and dust that gave birth to them not too long ago. This Hubble image, taken with the Advanced Camera for Surveys, shows that scene.

The cluster of blue stars, called NGC 602, formed when a large part of the gas cloud collapsed under gravity and became very dense. The fierce radiation now being produced by these hot, young stars is sculpting the inner rim of the gaseous nebula. Parts of the nebula resist this erosion better than others, leaving tall pillars that point toward the source of the radiation — the stars.

(Photo: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA) - ESA/Hubble Collaboration ) 

The giant nebula NGC 3603 is a prominent star-forming region in the Carina spiral arm of our galaxy, about 20,000 light-years away. Discovered by Sir John Herschel in 1834, it is the largest nebula seen in visible light in the Milky Way. Within its core is nestled a stellar “jewel box” of thousands of sparkling young stars, one of the most massive young star clusters in the Milky Way Galaxy.

(Photo: NASA, ESA, R. O'Connell (University of Virginia), F. Paresce (National Institute for Astrophysics, Bologna, Italy), E. Young (Universities Space Research Association/Ames Research Center), the WFC3 Science Oversight Committee, and the Hubble Heritage Team)

This esthetic close-up of cosmic clouds and stellar winds features LL Orionis, interacting with the Orion Nebula flow. Adrift in Orion's stellar nursery and still in its formative years, variable star LL Orionis produces a wind more energetic than the wind from our own middle-aged Sun. As the fast stellar wind runs into slow moving gas a shock front is formed, analogous to the bow wave of a boat moving through water or a plane traveling at supersonic speed. The small, arcing, graceful structure just above and left of center is LL Ori's cosmic bow shock, measuring about half a light-year across. The slower gas is flowing away from the Orion Nebula's hot central star cluster, the Trapezium, located off the upper left corner of the picture. In three dimensions, LL Ori's wrap-around shock front is shaped like a bowl that appears brightest when viewed along the "bottom" edge. The beautiful picture is part of a large mosaic view of the complex stellar nursery in Orion, filled with a myriad of fluid shapes associated with star formation. Hand Out Photo by NASA, ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team/ABACAPRESS.COM
This image made by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope shows NGC 6543, the Cat's Eye Nebula. The Hubble Space Telescope, one of NASA'S crowning glories, marks its 25th anniversary on Friday, April 24, 2015. With more than 1 million observations, including those of the farthest and oldest galaxies ever beholden by humanity, no man-made satellite has touched as many minds or hearts as Hubble. (NASA, ESA, HEIC, Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA) via AP)
An undated handout picture by NASA/ESA shows around 5,500 galaxies seen through the Hubble telescope. The time exposure titled 'Hubble extreme Deep Field' (XDF reveals galaxies up to 13.2 billion light-years from earth. Photo: NASA/ESA/G. Illingworth/D. Magee/P. Oesch/R. Bouwens/HUDF09 Team 
Sun Seasons: Our sun is constantly changing. It goes through cycles of activity - swinging between times of relative calm and times when frequent explosions on its surface can fling light, particles and energy out into space. This activity cycle peaks approximately every 11 years. New research shows evidence of a shorter time cycle as well, with activity waxing and waning over the course of about 330 days. Understanding when to expect such bursts of solar activity is crucial to successfully forecast the sun's eruptions, which can drive solar storms at Earth. These space weather events can interfere with satellite electronics, GPS navigation, and radio communications. The quasi-annual variations in space weather seem to be driven by changes in bands of strong magnetic field that are present in each solar hemisphere, Image Credit: NASA #sun #nasa #solar #solarstorm #science #space
Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have assembled a bigger and sharper photograph of the iconic Eagle Nebula's "Pillars of Creation" (right); the original 1995 Hubble image is shown at left. Credit: NASA/ESA/Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)/J. Hester, P. Scowen (Arizona State U.)
This undated photo supplied by NASA and the European Space Agency shows the Hubble Space Telescope's latest image of the star V838 Monocerotis, located about 20,000 light-years away on the outer edge of the Milky Way, which reveals dramatic changes in the illumination of surrounding dusty cloud structures. The effect, called a light echo, has been unveiling never-before-seen dust patterns ever since the star suddenly brightened for several weeks in early 2002. The illumination of interstellar dust comes from the red supergiant star at the middle of the image, which gave off a pulse of light three years ago, somewhat similar to setting off a flashbulb in a darkened room. The dust surrounding V838 may have been ejected from the star during a previous explosion, similar to the 2002 event. The echoing of light through space is similar to the echoing of sound through air. As light from the stellar explosion continues to propagate outwards, different parts of the surrounding dust are illuminated, just as a sound echo bounces off of objects near the source, and later, objects further from the source. Eventually, when light from the back side of the nebula begins to arrive, the light echo will give the illusion of contracting, and finally it will disappear. (AP Photo/NASA-ESA Hubble Team)
This undated photo taken by the Hubble Space Telescope's Near Infrared Camera and released by NASA Monday, May 12, 1997, shows the Orion Nebula, which contains the nearest nursery for massive stars. Photo at left shows a large part of the nebula as it appears in visible light. The infrared selection, right, reveals a chaotic, active star birth region. Here, stars and glowing interstellar dust, heated by and scattering the intense starlight, appear yellow-orange. (AP Photo/NASA)
This image provided by NASA, taken by Hubble Space Telescope on Oct. 28, 2006, shows a shell appearing to float serenely in the depths of space. But this apparent calm hides an inner turmoil. The gaseous envelope formed as the expanding blast wave and ejected material from a supernova tore through the nearby interstellar medium. Called SNR B0509-67.5 (or SNR 0509 for short), the bubble is the visible remnant of a powerful stellar explosion in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), a small galaxy about 160 000 light-years from Earth. (AP Photo/NASA)
This false-color composite image provided by NASA Thursday April 2, 2009 shows the Cartwheel galaxy as seen by the Galaxy Evolution Explorer's Far Ultraviolet detector (blue); the Hubble Space Telescope's Wide Field and Planetary Camera-2 in B-band visible light (green); the Spitzer Space Telescope's Infrared Array Camera (IRAC) at 8 microns (red); and the Chandra X-ray Observatory's Advanced CCD Imaging Spectrometer-S array instrument (purple). Approximately 100 million years ago, a smaller galaxy plunged through the heart of Cartwheel galaxy, creating ripples of brief star formation. In this image, the first ripple appears as an ultraviolet-bright blue outer ring. The blue outer ring is so powerful in the GALEX observations that it indicates the Cartwheel is one of the most powerful UV-emitting galaxies in the nearby universe. Although astronomers have not identified exactly which galaxy collided with the Cartwheel, two of three candidate galaxies can be seen in this image to the bottom left of the ring, one as a neon blob and the other as a green spiral. (AP Photo/NASA)
In this image provided by NASA this craggy fantasy mountaintop enshrouded by wispy clouds looks like a bizarre landscape from Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" or a Dr. Seuss book, depending on your imagination. The NASA Hubble Space Telescope image, which is even more dramatic than fiction, 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. The pillar is also being assaulted from within, as infant stars buried inside it fire off jets of gas that can be seen streaming from towering peaks. This turbulent cosmic pinnacle lies within a tempestuous stellar nursery called the Carina Nebula, located 7,500 light-years away in the southern constellation Carina. The image celebrates the 20th anniversary of Hubble's launch and deployment into an orbit around Earth. Hubble was launched April 24, 1990. (AP Photo/NASA)
This undated handout image provided by NASA, released Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2009, taken by the refurbished Hubble Space Telescope, shows Colorful Stars Galore Inside Globular Star Cluster Omega Centauri. (AP Photo/NASA)
This undated handout image provided by NASA, released Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2009, taken by the refurbished Hubble Space Telescope, shows stars bursting to life in the chaotic Carina Nebula. (AP Photo/NASA)
This undated handout image provided by NASA, released Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2009, taken by the refurbished Hubble Space Telescope, shows a celestial object that looks like a delicate butterfly. (AP Photo/NASA)
This undated handout image provided by NASA, released Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2009, taken by the refurbished Hubble Space Telescope, shows a clash among members of a famous galaxy quintet reveals an assortment of stars across a wide color range, from young, blue stars to aging, red stars. (AP Photo/NASA)
This undated handout image provided by NASA, released Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2009, taken by the refurbished Hubble Space Telescope, shows Gravitational Lensing in Galaxy Cluster Abell 370. (AP Photo/NASA)
This image provided by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope taken with it's Wide Field Camera 3 on Thursday July 23, 2009 shows the sharpest visible-light picture taken of the impact feature (dark spot) and "backsplash" of material from a small object that plunged into Jupiter's atmosphere and disintegrated. The only other time in history such a feature has been seen on Jupiter was in 1994 during the collision of fragments from comet Shoemaker-Levy 9. This is a natural color image of Jupiter as seen in visible light. (AP Photo/NASA)
In this April 20, 2011 photo provided by NASA, the Hubble Space Telescope captures a group of interacting galaxies called Arp 273. The larger of the spiral galaxies, known as UGC 1810, has a disk that is tidally distorted into a rose-like shape by the gravitational tidal pull of the companion galaxy below it, known as UGC 1813. A swath of blue jewels across the top is the combined light from clusters of intensely bright and hot young blue stars. The smaller, nearly edge-on companion shows distinct signs of intense star formation at its nucleus, perhaps triggered by the encounter with the companion galaxy. A series of uncommon spiral patterns in the large galaxy is a tell-tale sign of interaction. Arp 273 lies in the constellation Andromeda and is roughly 300 million light-years away from Earth. Hubble was launched April 24, 1990, aboard Discovery's STS-31 mission. (AP Photo/NASA)
This illustration released by NASA depicts a view of the night sky just before the predicted merger between our Milky Way galaxy, left, and the neighboring Andromeda galaxy. About 3.75 billion years from now, Andromeda's disk fills the field of view and its gravity begins to create tidal distortions in the Milky Way. The view is inspired by dynamical computer modeling of the future collision between the two galaxies. The two galaxies collide about 4 billion years from now and merge to form a single galaxy about 6 billion years from now. Astronomers in a Thursday, May 31, 2012, NASA news conference announced that observations from the Hubble Space Telescope detail a long-anticipated galactic smash-up. Astronomers had seen the Andromeda galaxy coming at us, but thought there was a chance that its sideways motion would make it miss or graze the Milky Way. Hubble readings say there's no chance of that.(AP Photo/NASA)
This image provided by NASA Tuesday Nov. 11, 2009 shows observations from the Hubble Space Telescope, the Spitzer Space Telescope, and the Chandra X-ray Observatory in a collaboration to produce an unprecedented image of the central region of our Milky Way galaxy using infrared light and X-ray light to 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. Each telescope's contribution is presented in a different color. Yellow represents the near-infrared observations of Hubble. The observations outline the energetic regions where stars are being born as well as reveal hundreds of thousands of stars. Red represents the infrared observations of Spitzer. The radiation and winds from stars create glowing dust clouds that exhibit complex structures from compact, spherical globules to long, stringy filaments. Blue and violet represent the X-ray observations of Chandra. X-rays are emitted by gas heated to millions of degrees by stellar explosions and by outflows from the supermassive black hole in the galaxy's center. The bright blue blob on the left side is emission from a double star system containing either a neutron star or a black hole. (AP Photo/NASA) When these views are brought together, this composite image provides one of the most detailed views ever of our galaxy's mysterious core.
FILE - This 2003 image from the Hubble telescope, provided by NASA, shows a storm of turbulent gases in the Omega/Swan nebula. (AP Photo/NASA)
FILE - This 2006 composite image provided by NASA shows thousands of stars forming in the cloud of gas and dust known as the Orion nebula, as viewed by the Hubble Space Telescope. More than 3,000 stars of various sizes appear in this image assembled from 100 different images sent back by the Hubble Space Telescope. The original Hubble pictures are black and white photos, which are then carefully colorized. (AP Photo/NASA)
This image has been released by NASA as the last "pretty" image made by the Hubble Space Telescope's Wide Field Planetary Camera 2. The image made May 4, 2009 is of the planetary nebula known as Kohoutek 4-55. It is one of a series of planetary nebulae that were named after their discoverer, Czech astronomer Lubos Kohoutek. A planetary nebula contains the outer layers of a red giant star that were expelled into interstellar space when the star was in the late stages of its life. Ultraviolet radiation emitted from the remaining hot core of the star ionizes the ejected gas shells, causing them to glow. The Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 will be replace during the space shuttle mission scheduled to launch Monday May 11, 2009. (AP Photo/NASA)
This 2007 image, released by NASA for the Hubble Space Telescope's 17th anniversary, shows a region of star birth and death in the Carina Nebula looking much like an abstract painting. The nebula contains at least a dozen brilliant stars that are 50 to 100 times the mass of our Sun, according to the NASA description. (AP Photo/NASA)
A photo provided by NASA shows an image made February 24, 2009, by the Hubble Space Telescope of four moons of Saturn passing in front of their parent planet. In this view, the giant orange moon Titan casts a large shadow onto Saturn's north polar hood. Below Titan, near the ring plane and to the left is the moon Mimas, casting a much smaller shadow onto Saturn's equatorial cloud tops. Farther to the left, and off Saturn's disk, are the bright moon Dione and the fainter moon Enceladus. The banded structure in Saturn's atmosphere is similar to Jupiter's. The dark band running across the face of the planet slightly above the rings is the shadow of the rings cast on the planet. (AP Photo/NASA)
This image provided by the Hubble Space Telescope shows the striking details of the famed planetary nebula designated NGC 2818, which lies in the southern constellation of Pyxis (the Compass). The spectacular structure of the planetary nebula contains the outer layers of a star that were expelled into interstellar space. The glowing gaseous shrouds in the nebula were shed by the central star after it ran out of fuel to sustain the nuclear reactions in its core. NGC 2818 is often heralded as one of the Galaxy’s few planetary nebulae to be discovered as a member of an open star cluster. (AP Photo/NASA)
In this image provided by NASA Thursday Oct. 2, 2008 shows landscape' image from the cosmos to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope's Hubble Heritage Project. Cutting across a nearby star-forming region, called NGC 3324, are the "hills and valleys" of gas and dust displayed in intricate detail. Set amid a backdrop of soft, glowing blue light are wispy tendrils of gas as well as dark trunks of dust that are light-years in height. NGC 3324 is located in the constellation Carina, about 7,200 light-years away from Earth. The abrupt, mysterious failure of the command and data-handling system for Hubble's science instruments Saturday Sept. 28, 2008 means that the telescope is unable to capture and beam down the data needed to produce its stunning deep space images. (AP Photo/NASA)
**EMBARGOED UNTIL 9:00 AM EDT THURS., APRIL 24, 2008** This image made by the Hubble Space Telescope and released by NASA Thursday, April 24, 2008 shows Arp 148, the aftermath of an encounter between two galaxies, resulting in a ring-shaped galaxy and a long-tailed companion. The collision between the two parent galaxies produced a shockwave effect that first drew matter into the center and then caused it to propagate outwards in a ring. The elongated companion perpendicular to the ring suggests that Arp 148 is a unique snapshot of an ongoing collision. Arp 148 is nicknamed “Mayall’s object” and is located in the constellation of Ursa Major, the Great Bear, approximately 500 million light-years away. This image is part of a large collection of 59 images of merging galaxies taken by the Hubble Space Telescope and released on its 18th launch anniversary.(AP Photo/NASA, ESA)
This image provided by NASA Tuesday Oct. 2, 2007 shows a Hubble Space Telescope image of thousands of sparkling young stars nestled within the giant nebula NGC 3603. This stellar "jewel box" is one of the most massive young star clusters in the Milky Way Galaxy. NGC 3603 is a prominent star-forming region in the Carina spiral arm of the Milky Way, about 20,000 light-years away. This latest image from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope shows a young star cluster surrounded by a vast region of dust and gas. The image reveals stages in the life cycle of stars. AP Photo/NASA)
Astronomers using the W.M. Keck Observatory on the Big Island in Hawaii and the Hubble Space Telescope to study disks of debris around stars have found one that is extremely lopsided. This Hubble image provided by NASA/ESA/UC Berkeley, shows a lopsided disk looking like a "blue needle" extending from its star, known as HD 15115. About 100 other stars are known to have discs, but the blue needle is more asymmetrical than any of its neighbors. It's unclear why the disc is so needlelike, but astronomers speculate that a smaller star is pulling matter in its direction. The gray ball in the center of the photo, as well as the oval black mass at left, were artificially produced by the telescope. (AP Photo/NASA/ESA/UC Berkeley)
This photo, supplied by NASA and the European Space Agency on Monday, Dec. 11, 2006, shows Pismis 24-1, a bright young star that lies in the core of the small open star cluster Pismis 24, the bright stars in this Hubble Space Telescope image. It was one of the top candidates for the title of Milky Way stellar heavyweight champion until very recently, Pismis 24-1, about 8,000 light-years away from Earth, was thought to have an incredibly large mass of 200 to 300 solar masses. but new NASA/ESA Hubble measurements of the star, have discovered that Pismis 24-1 is actually two separate stars, and, in doing so, have halved its mass to around 100 solar masses.The star cluster Pismis 24 lies in the core of the large emission nebula NGC 6357 that extends on the arm of the Sagittarius constellation. The results of the lastest observations was reported to the Massive Stars Workshop in Argentina this month, December 2006.(AP Photo/NASA/ESA)
In this Hubble Space Telescope image released by the European Space Agency and NASA on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2006, Messier 101, the gigantic Pinwheel galaxy, one of the best known examples of grand design spirals, and its super-giant star-forming regions are shown in unprecedented detail. The image of M101 is the largest and most detailed photo of a face-on spiral galaxy ever released.The giant disk of stars, dust and gas is 170,000 light-years across or nearly twice the diameter of our Milky Way. The galaxy lies in the northern circumpolar constellation, Ursa Major (The Great Bear) at a distance of 25 million light years from Earth. (AP Photo/European Space Agency/NASA)
This image provided by NASA shows the light echo around the variable star V838 Monocerotis taken by the Hubble Space Telescope released Saturday Oct. 27, 2006. The unusual variable star V838 Monocerotis continues to puzzle astronomers. This previously inconspicuous star underwent an outburst early in 2002, during which it temporarily increased in brightness to become 600 000 times more luminous than our Sun. Signs are promising for a repair of the aging but popular Hubble Space Telescope, once thought doomed because of worries over astronaut safety. The decision rests with NASA Administrator Michael Griffin, who hasn't yet made up his mind, NASA spokesman Dean Acosta said Friday in an e-mail. An announcement on the decision is expected Tuesday. (AP PHoto/NASA)
This photo taken by the Hubble Space telescope and released by NASA shows the planet Pluto, center, with its two newly named moons, from far right, Hydra and Nix, respectively. Pluto's other moon, Charon, is seen closest to Pluto. (AP Photo/NASA)
During the 15 years that the NASA/European Space Agency (ESA) Hubble Space Telescope has orbited the Earth, it has taken three-quarters of a million photos of the cosmos - images that have awed, astounded and even confounded astronomers and the public alike. On Monday April 25, 2005, NASA and ESA released new views of two of the most well-known images Hubble has ever taken: the Eagle Nebula, and spiral galaxy M51, known as the Whirlpool Galaxy. The images, among the largest and sharpest views Hubble has ever taken, were made with the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS). The two new images are so incredibly sharp they could be enlarged to billboard size and still retain all of their stunning details. Scientists used the newer ACS camera to revisit one region of the eerie-looking Eagle Nebula, producing a new image with stunning detail. The image reveals a tall, dense tower of gas being sculpted by ultraviolet light from a group of massive, hot stars. The new Whirlpool Galaxy image showcases the spiral galaxy's classic features, from its curving arms, where newborn stars reside, to its yellowish central core that serves as home for older stars. The soaring tower is 9.5 light-years or about 90 trillion kilometers high, about twice the distance from our Sun to the next nearest star. A torrent of ultraviolet light from a band of massive, hot, young stars [near the top] is eroding the pillar. The dominant colors in the image were produced by gas energized by the star cluster's powerful ultraviolet light. The blue color at the top is from glowing oxygen. The red color in the lower region is from glowing hydrogen. The Eagle Nebula image was taken in November 2004 .(AP Photo/ NASA, ESA)
This is a unique view of the disk galaxy NGC5866 provided by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope Thursday June 8, 2006. NGC5866 tilted nearly edge-on to our line-of-sight. Hubble's sharp vision reveals a crisp dust lane dividing the galaxy into two halves. The image highlights the galaxy's structure: a subtle, reddish bulge surrounding a bright nucleus, a blue disk of stars running parallel to the dust lane, and a transparent outer halo. Viewed face on, it would look like a smooth, flat disk with little spiral structure. It remains in the spiral category because of the flatness of the main disk of stars as opposed to the more spherically rotund (or ellipsoidal) class of galaxies called "ellipticals." NGC 5866 lies in the Northern constellation Draco, at a distance of 44 million light-years. It has a diameter of roughly 60,000 light-years only two-thirds the diameter of the Milky Way, although its mass is similar to our galaxy. This Hubble image of NGC 5866 is a combination of blue, green and red observations taken with the Advanced Camera for Surveys in February 2006. (AP Photo/NASA)
In this image provided by NASA Tuesday Sept. 13, 2005 the Hubble Space Telescope "caught" the Boomerang Nebula in these new images taken with the Advanced Camera for Surveys. This reflecting cloud of dust and gas has two nearly symmetric lobes (or cones) of matter that are being ejected from a central star. Over the last 1,500 years, nearly one and a half times the mass of our Sun has been lost by the central star of the Boomerang Nebula in an ejection process known as a bipolar outflow. The nebula's name is derived from its symmetric structure as seen from ground-based telescopes. Hubble's sharp view is able to resolve patterns and ripples in the nebula very close to the central star that are not visible from the ground.
In this image released Thursday July 1, 2004, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope captures the iridescent tapestry of star birth in a neighboring galaxy in this panoramic view of glowing gas, dark dust clouds, and young, hot stars. The star-forming region, catalogued as N11B, lies in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), located only 160,000 light-years from Earth.(AP Photo/NASA)
Resembling a rippling pool illuminated by underwater lights, the Egg Nebula offers astronomers a special look at the normally invisible dust shells swaddling an aging star in this image made by the Hubble Space Telescope and released Saturday April 5, 2003. These dust layers, extending over one-tenth of a light-year from the star, have an onionskin structure that forms concentric rings around the star. A thicker dust belt, running almost vertically through the image, blocks off light from the central star. Twin beams of light radiate from the hidden star and illuminate the pitch-black dust, like a flashlight shining in a smoky room. (AP Photo/NASA)
Resembling the fury of a raging sea, this image actually shows a bubbly ocean of glowing hydrogen gas and small amounts of other elements such as oxygen and sulfur. The photograph, taken, May 29-30, 1999 and released April 24, 2003 by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, captures a small region within M17, a hotbed of star formation. M17, also known as the Omega or Swan Nebula, is located about 5,500 light-years away in the constellation Sagittarius. The image is being released to commemorate the thirteenth anniversary of Hubble's launch on April 24, 1990. The image, roughly 3 light-years across with the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2. The colors in the image represent various gases. Red represents sulfur; green, hydrogen; and blue, oxygen. (AP Photo/NASA)
The delicate filaments are actually sheets of debris from a stellar explosion in a neighboring galaxy resemble the puffs of smoke and sparks from a summer fireworks display in this image from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope released Friday July 4, 2003. Hubble's target was a supernova remnant, denoted LMC N 49, within the Large Magellanic Cloud, a nearby, small companion galaxy to the Milky Way visible from the southern hemisphere. This filamentary material will eventually be recycled into building new generations of stars in the LMC. Our own Sun and planets are constructed from similar debris of supernovae that exploded in the Milky Way billions of years ago. (AP Photo/NASA)
This image is a snapshot from a movie that shows dynamic rings, wisps and jets of matter and antimatter around the pulsar in the Crab Nebula as observed in X-ray light by Chandra in 2001. By combining a series of still images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope and the Chandra X-ray Observatory, astronomers created a short video sequence that gives movement to gas and other matter churning from the Crab. (AP PHOTO/NASA ho)
Planetary nebula IC 418, known as the Spirograph Nebula, located 2,000 light years from Earth, is seen in this photo from the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 aboard NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. A planetary nebula is the final stage of the evolution of a star similar to the sun. The Hubble image is shown in a false-color representation, based on exposures taken in February and September 1999 through filters that isolate light from various chemical elements. Red represents ionized nitrogen, green - hydrogen and blue - ionized oxygen. (AP Photo/NASA, The Hubble Heritage Team, Dr. Raghvendra Sahai and Dr. Arsen R. Hajian)
This undated image released Tuesday, Oct. 20, 1998, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, shows the small spiral galaxy NGC 7742. It is known to be a Seyfert 2 active galaxy, a type of galaxy that is probably powered by a black hole residing in its core. The core is the large yellow portion in the center of the image. The lumpy, thick ring around the core is an area of active starbirth. The ring is about 3,000 light-years from the core. (AP Photo/Hubble Heritage Team)
NASA photo released Wednesday Dec. 17, 1997, taken by the Hubble Space telescope Aug. 2, 1997, shows the Twin Jet Nebula. If the nebula is sliced across the star, each side of it appears much like a pair of exhausts from jet engines. The nebula is 2,100 light-years away in the constellation Ophiucus with neutral oxygen in red, once-ionized nitrogen in green, and twice-ionized oxygen in blue. (AP Photo/NASA)
Photo released by NASA, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, showing a spiral galaxy 161 million light-years from earth. The image, taken with the Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer, shows the spiral galaxy from face-on. Red corresponds to glowing hydrogen, red knots outline curving spiral arms, pinpoint rich star-forming regions where the surrounding hydrogen gas is heated by intense ultraviolet radiation from young massive stars. (AP Photo/NASA)
Photo released by NASA Tuesday Oct. 21, 1997, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope Jan. 20, 1996 shows a detailed look at a "fireworks show" at the center of a collision between two galaxies. Left, ground base telescope view of the Antannae galaxies. The galaxies are located 63 million light-years away in the southern constellation Corvus. Right, cores of the twin galaxies are the orange blobs, left and right of image center, crisscrossed by filaments of dark dust. The sweeping spiral-like patterns, traced by bright blue clusters, show the result of a firestorm of star birth activity which was triggered by the collision. This natural-color image is a composite of four separately filtered images. (AP Photo/NASA)
These photos released by NASA Monday, Nov. 25, 1996, taken Oct. 16-17, 1994, by the Hubble Space Telescope's Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2, show a galaxy, left, that looks like a wagon wheel, and a close-up image, right, of the galaxy's comet-like knots of gas. The galaxy's nucleus is the bright object in the center; the spoke-like structures are wisps of material connecting the nucleus to the outer ring of young stars. The knots are confined to the core's left side and appear as white streaks inside the blue ring. The "heads" are a few hundred light-years across; the tails are more than 1,000 light-years long. (AP Photo/NASA)
A pair of one-half light-year long interstellar "twisters" appear in the "Hourglass" region of the Lagoon Nebula (Messier 8) 5,000 light years from earth in the region of the constellation Sagittarius in this Hubble Space Telescope image released by NASA Wednesday, Jan. 22, 1997. The bright light at lower right in the image is the central hot star O Herschel 36. This is a color coded image from combined exposures taken in July and Sept. 1995 through three narrow band filters. The region is studied by astronomers to learn more about the birth of stars and the interaction between stellar winds and nearby gas. (AP Photo / NASA/JPL)
A pair of one-half light-year long interstellar "twisters" appear in the "Hourglass" region of the Lagoon Nebula (Messier 8) 5,000 light years from earth in the region of the constellation Sagittarius in this Hubble Space Telescope image released by NASA Wednesday, Jan. 22, 1997. The bright light at upper left in the image is the central hot star O Herschel 36. This is a color coded image from combined exposures taken in July and Sept. 1995 through three narrow band filters. The region is studied by astronomers to learn more about the birth of stars and the interaction between stellar winds and nearby gas.The ionizing radiation induces photo-evaporation of the surfaces of the clouds (seen as a blue mist at the right of the image) and drives away violent stellar winds tearing into the cool clouds analagous to terrestrial tornadoes. (AP Photo / NASA/JPL)
The Hubble Space Telescope has returned this picture of these wraithlike formations 450 light years away and is on a search for more. These gigantic, tadpole-shaped objects are probably the result of a dying star's last gasps. Dubbed ``cometary knots'' because their glowing heads and gossamer tails resemble comets. (AP Photo/NASA/Rice University, C. Robert O'Dell and Kerry P. Handron)
FILE - This composite file photo released by NASA Nov. 2, 1995, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope on April 1, 1995, shows dark pillar-like structures which are actually columns of cool interstellar hydrogen gas and dust and also incubators of new stars in the Eagle Nebula. The color image is constructed from three separate images taken in the light from different types of atoms. Red shows emission from sulfur atoms, green from hydrogen, and blue from oxygen, according to NASA, which calls the photo Pillars of Creation. (AP Photo/NASA, File)
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has revisited the famous Pillars of Creation, revealing a sharper and wider view of the structures in this visible-light image. Astronomers combined several Hubble exposures to assemble the wider view. The towering pillars about are 5 light-years tall. The new image was taken with Hubble's versatile and sharp-eyed Wide Field Camera 3. The pillars are bathed in blistering ultraviolet light from a grouping of young, massive stars located off the top of the image. Streamers of gas can be seen bleeding off the pillars as the intense radiation heats and evaporates it into space. Denser regions of the pillars are shadowing material beneath them from the powerful radiation. Stars are being born deep inside the pillars, which are made of cold hydrogen gas laced with dust. The pillars are part of a small region of the Eagle Nebula, a vast star-forming region 6,500 light-years from Earth. The colors in the image highlight emission from several chemical elements. Oxygen emission is blue, sulfur is orange, and hydrogen and nitrogen are green. Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA) #nasagoddard #space #Hubble #hd
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The first definitive detection of a pair of exoplanets came in 1992. Researchers found evidence of the first exoplanet orbiting a G-type star, like our own sun, three years later.

The Kepler mission launched in March of 2009 and really opened the floodgates. Since it started scanning distant stars, researchers have compiled a list of more than 1,000 confirmed exoplanets, plus thousands of additional candidates.

In fact, some research based on gravity data now indicates there's at least one exoplanet for each star in the Milky Way. Researchers found "stars are orbited by planets as a rule, rather than the exception."

But the mere presence of a planet doesn't mean much. Finding Earth-like life on another planet would require that planet orbit within its star's habitable zone, a certain set of distances at which water on the surface is a liquid.

There are a number of other variables to consider as well, which is where the brain trust at NExSS comes in. The goal is to develop a sort of equation to evaluate a given exoplanet for the possibility of life: a way to learn about and classify its formation, interior, geology, atmosphere, tidal dynamics, ecosystem and the effects of its host star.

At NExSS, Earth scientists will contribute their knowledge of how life works on our home planet. Planetary scientists will compare that Earth baseline to other worlds in our solar system. Heliophysicists will explain the interactions and effects stars have on their orbiting planets. And astrophysicists will give NExSS exoplanet targets to analyze using these rules.

Jim Green, NASA's Director of Planetary Science, says this "provides a synthesized approach in the search for planets with the greatest potential for signs of life. The hunt for exoplanets is not only a priority for astronomers, it's of keen interest to planetary and climate scientists as well."

NASA will keep NExSS well-stocked with data to sift through. Missionsover the next decade are expected to lengthen our list of exoplanets. The earliest dedicated mission, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, is set to launch in 2017.

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Astronauts on the International Space Station see the Earth at night on every orbit. They captured this broad, short-lens stunning view of Earth’s night lights while looking out over the remote reaches of the central equatorial Pacific Ocean on August 9, 2015. The station was passing over the island nation of Kiribati at the time, about 2600 kilometers (1,600 miles) south of Hawaii. Knowing the exact time and the location of the ISS, scientists were able to match the star field in the photo to charts describing which stars should have been visible at that moment. They identified the pattern of stars in the photo as our Milky Way galaxy (looking toward its center). The dark patches are dense dust clouds in an inner spiral arm of our galaxy; such clouds can block our view of stars toward the center. The curvature of the Earth crosses the center of the image and is illuminated by a variety of airglow layers in orange, green, and red. Setting stars are visible even through the dense orange-green airglow. The brightest light in the image is a lightning flash that illuminated a large mass of clouds. The flash reflected off the shiny solar arrays of the ISS and back to the camera. The dim equatorial cloud sheet is so extensive that it covers most of the sea surface in this view. Image Credit: NASA Caption: M. Justin Wilkinson, Texas State U., Jacobs Contract at NASA-JSC and Mark Matney, NASA-JSC #nasa #space #astronomy #iss #spacestation @iss #science #earth #night #stars
Hubble Spies a Spiral Snowflake: Spiral galaxies, like this one, make up around 60% of the galaxies in the local universe. However, despite their prevalence, each spiral galaxy is unique — like snowflakes, no two are alike. The Hubble Space Telescope peered toward the luminous nucleus and spectacular sweeping arms of this galaxy, NGC 6814. NGC 6814 has an extremely bright nucleus, a telltale sign that the galaxy is a Seyfert galaxy. These galaxies have very active centers that can emit strong bursts of radiation. The luminous heart of NGC 6814 is a highly variable source of X-ray radiation, causing scientists to suspect that it hosts a supermassive black hole with a mass about 18 million times that of the sun. As NGC 6814 is a very active galaxy, many regions of ionized gas are studded along its spiral arms. In these large clouds of gas, a burst of star formation has recently taken place, forging the brilliant blue stars that are visible scattered throughout the galaxy. Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA; Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt #nasa #astronomy #science #space #Hubble #galaxy
Behemoth supermassive black hole weighing 17 billion suns was found in an unlikely place: in the center of a galaxy in a sparsely populated area of the universe. The observations, made by our Hubble Space Telescope and the Gemini Telescope in Hawaii, may indicate that these monster objects may be more common than once thought. This computer-simulated image shows a supermassive black hole at the core of a galaxy. The black region in the center represents the black hole's event horizon, where no light can escape the massive object's gravitational grip. The black hole's powerful gravity distorts space around it like a funhouse mirror. Light from background stars is stretched and smeared as the stars skim by the black hole. Credits: NASA, ESA, and D. Coe, J. Anderson, and R. van der Marel (STScI) [Computer Simulated Image] #nasa #space #hubble #hst #gemini #telescope #blackhole #nasabeyond #astronomy #galaxy #science
Blue Bubble: Sparkling at the center of this beautiful Hubble Space Telescope image is a Wolf-Rayet star known as WR 31a, located about 30,000 light-years away. The distinctive blue bubble appearing to encircle WR 31a is a Wolf-Rayet nebula - an interstellar cloud of dust, hydrogen, helium and other gases. Created when speedy stellar winds interact with the outer layers of hydrogen ejected by Wolf-Rayet stars, these nebulae are frequently ring-shaped or spherical. The bubble - estimated to have formed around 20,000 years ago - is expanding at a rate of around 220,000 kilometers (136,700 miles) per hour! Unfortunately, the lifecycle of a Wolf-Rayet star is only a few hundred thousand years - the blink of an eye in cosmic terms. Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt #nasa #hubble #hst #nebula #planets #stars #nasabeyond #astronomy #science
Aurora and the Pacific Northwest: NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and ESA astronaut Tim Peake shared a series of aurora photographs taken from the International Space Station on Jan. 20, 2016. Kelly (@StationCDRKelly) wrote, "#goodmorning #aurora and the Pacific Northwest! #YearInSpace" and Peake (@astro_timpeake) followed up with, "Getting a photo masterclass from @StationCDRKelly - magical #aurora" The dancing lights of the aurora provide spectacular views on the ground, but also capture the imagination of scientists who study incoming energy and particles from the sun. Aurora are one effect of such energetic particles, which can speed out from the sun both in a steady stream called the solar wind and due to giant eruptions known as coronal mass ejections or CMEs. Image Credit: ESA/NASA #nasa #spacestation #iss #aurora #space #earth

Posted on NASA's Instagram on 2 March 2014

"Tonight, #Gravity is up for awards at the#Oscars2014 & we're sharing #RealGravity images from living & working in space. First up is this stunning picture where the bright sun greets the International Space Station in this Nov. 22, 2009 scene from the Russian section of the orbital outpost."

Image Credit: NASA

 

Posted to NASA's Instagram on 16 April 2014

"Eclipse! From open prairie land on the 1625-acre Johnson Space Center site, one of our photographers took this multi-frame composite image of the so-called "Blood Moon" lunar eclipse in the early hours of April 15. During these rare events, the full moon rapidly darkens and then glows red as it enters the Earth's shadow."
 
Image Credit: NASA 

 

Posted to NASA's Instagram on 24 May 2014

"Hubble Sees Flickering Light Display on Saturn - Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope have captured new images of the dancing auroral lights at Saturn’s north pole. Taken from Hubble’s perspective in orbit around the Earth, these images provide a detailed look at Saturn’s stormy aurorae — revealing previously unseen dynamics in the choreography of the auroral glow. The cause of the changing patterns in Saturn's aurorae is an ongoing mystery in planetary science. These ultraviolet images, taken by Hubble’s super-sensitive Advanced Camera for Surveys, add new insight by capturing moments when Saturn’s magnetic field is affected by bursts of particles streaming out from the sun."

Image Credit: European Space Agency

Posted to NASA's Instagram on 1 June 2014

"This image shot by astronauts aboard the International Space Station is a striking view of Sarychev volcano (Russia's Kuril Islands, northeast of Japan) in an early stage of eruption on June 12, 2009. Sarychev Peak is one of the most active volcanoes in the Kuril Island chain and is located on the northwestern end of Matua Island."
 

Image Credit: NASA

Posted to NASA's Instagram on 8 May 2014 

"It's a small world! The phrase "encircling the Earth" has a double entendre flavor to it in this picture showing all six Expedition 39 crew members in the Kibo module around a globe while actually orbiting the "real thing" aboard the International Space Station. Clockwise from his position are Alexander Skvortsov and Mikhail Tyurin of Russia's Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), Steve Swanson and Rick Mastracchio of NASA and Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos."

Image Credit: NASA

Posted to NASA's Instagram on 6 June 2014

"Astronaut Reid Wiseman, aboard the International Space Station, shared this image on Twitter on Friday, June 6, 2014 wishing everyone a great weekend. He shared that this image shows 'Trinidad and Tobago in the evening sun.'

Image Credit: NASA

Posted to NASA's Instagram on 11 June 2014

"An adult osprey returns home to its nest built on a platform in a parking lot at our Kennedy Space Center, carrying a fish in its talons. In the background is the 12,300-square-foot NASA logo painted on the side of the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB)."

Image Credit: NASA/Daniel Casper

Posted to NASA's Instagram on 10 June 2014

"The sun emitted a significant solar flare, peaking at 7:42 a.m. EDT on June 10, 2014. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory – which typically observes the entire sun 24 hours a day -- captured images of the flare. It is seen bursting off the left limb of the sun in this image captured by SDO and is shown in a blend of two wavelengths of light: 171 and 131 angstroms, colorized in gold and red, respectively."

Image Credit: NASA/SDO/Goddard/Wiessinger

Posted to NASA's Instagram on 30 May 2014

"Violent Birth Announcement from an Infant Star - This Hubble image shows IRAS 14568-6304, a young star that is cloaked in a haze of golden gas and dust. It appears to be embedded within an intriguing swoosh of dark sky, which curves through the image and obscures the sky behind."

Image Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA Acknowledgements: R. Sahai, NASA JPL/ Serge Meunier

 

Posted to NASA's Instagram on 29 May 2014

"The 'Serpent' Star-forming Cloud Hatches New Stars - Within the swaddling dust of the Serpens Cloud Core, astronomers are studying one of the youngest collections of stars ever seen in our galaxy."

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/2MASS

 

Posted to NASA's Instagram on 11 May 2014

"IceBridge Concludes Arctic Field Campaign - Researchers with our Operation IceBridge have completed another successful Arctic field campaign. On May 23, NASA's P-3 research aircraft left Thule Air Base, Greenland, and returned to Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia marking the end of 11 weeks of polar research." This image is a view of mountains and sea ice near Thule Air Base, Greenland, from the NASA P-3 on May 6, 2014."

Image Credit: NASA/Michael

Posted to NASA's Instagram on 14 May 2014

"Landing time! The Soyuz TMA-11M spacecraft is seen as it lands with Expedition 39 Commander Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), Soyuz Commander Mikhail Tyurin of Roscosmos, and Flight Engineer Rick Mastracchio of NASA near the town of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan on Wednesday, May 14, 2014."


Image Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
 

Posted to NASA's Instagram on 5 May 2104

"Here's what happens when galaxies collide - as seen by our Chandra X-Ray Observatory: M51 is a spiral galaxy, about 30 million light years away, that is in the process of merging with a smaller galaxy seen to its upper left. This image is part of a "quartet of galaxies" collaboration of professional and amateur astronomers that combines optical data from amateur telescopes with data from the archives of NASA missions."
 
Image Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO; Optical: Detlef Hartmann; Infrared: NASA/JPL-Caltech 
 

Posted to NASA's Instagram on 19 April 2014

"Researchers were greatly surprised to discover 3-million-year-old landscape beneath Greenland Ice Sheet! The finding provides strong evidence that the Greenland Ice Sheet has persisted much longer than previously known, enduring through many past periods of global warming."
 
Image Credit: Joshua Brown, University of Vermont 
 
 

Posted to NASA's Instagram on 16 April 2014

"The Grand Canyon in northern Arizona is a favorite for astronauts shooting photos from the International Space Station. The steep walls of the Colorado River canyon and its many side canyons make an intricate landscape that contrasts with the dark green, forested plateau to the north and south. "
 
Image Credit: NASA 
 
 

Posted to NASA's Instagram on 26 March 2014

"Off into Space! This long exposure photograph shows the flight path of the Soyuz TMA-12M rocket as it launches from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan yesterday. The rocket carried Expedition 39 Soyuz Commander Alexander Skvortsov of the Russian Federal Space Agency, Roscosmos, Flight Engineer Steven Swanson of NASA, and Flight Engineer Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos to the International Space Station."
 
Image Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

 
 

Posted on NASA's Instagram on 2 February 2014

"This view of the Crab Nebula in visible light comes from the Hubble Space Telescope and spans 12 light-years. The supernova remnant, located 6,500 light-years away in the constellation Taurus, is among the best-studied objects in the sky."
 
Image Credit: NASA/ESA/ASU/J. Hester 
 

Posted on NASA's Instagram on 24 January 2014

"Commander Oleg Kotov and Flight Engineer Sergey Ryazanskiy donned their Russian Orlan spacesuits for a "dry run" dress rehearsal to test the suits in advance of Monday's spacewalk to reinstall a pair of cameras as part of a commercial endeavor between a Canadian firm and the Russian Federal Space Agency. The cameras will be used to downlink Earth imagery to Internet-based subscribers. The two cosmonauts also plan to retrieve an experiment package housed on the Zvezda service module's hull."
 
Image Credit: NASA

Posted on NASA's Instagram on 31 December 2013

"Quiet Corona and Upper Transition Region of the Sun: This image, taken on Dec. 31, 2013 by the AIA instrument on NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) at 171 Angstrom, shows the current conditions of the quiet corona and upper transition region of the Sun on the last day of 2013."

Image Credit: NASA/Solar Dynamics Observatory

Posted on NASA's Instagram on 27 December 2013

"On Dec. 24, 2013, NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins, Expedition 38 Flight Engineer, participates in the second of two U.S. spacewalks, spread over a four-day period, which were designed to allow the crew to change out a faulty water pump on the exterior of the Earth-orbiting International Space Station. He was joined on both spacewalks by NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio, whose image shows up in Hopkins' helmet visor."

Image Credit: NASA

Posted on NASA's Instagram on 22 May 2014

"On Earth Day this year, NASA asked people all around the world a simple question - "Where are you on Earth Right Now?"We asked people to answer the question on social media, with a selfie. The goal was to use each picture as a pixel in the creation of a "Global Selfie" - a mosaic image that would look like Earth appeared from space on Earth Day. The mosaic was made with 36,422 individual images that were posted to social media sites on or around Earth Day, April 22, 2014."
 
Image Credit: NASA

Posted on NASA's Instagram on 2 March 2014

"A crescent moon and Earth's horizon are featured in this nighttime image photographed by an Expedition 40 crew member on the International Space Station. Over the weekend, the station’s residents will have some free time to relax, speak with family members back on Earth and take care of weekly housekeeping chores. They’ll also have a chance to catch up on the action at the World Cup 2014 games in Brazil."

Image Credit: NASA
 

Posted on NASA's Instagram on 15 June 2014

"Our scientists have created a new recipe that captures key flavors of the brownish-orange atmosphere around Saturn’s largest moon, Titan. The recipe is used for lab experiments designed to simulate Titan’s chemistry." This Cassini image from 2012 shows Titan and its parent planet Saturn."

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI

Posted on NASA's Instagram on 16 June 2014

"Cracks in Pluto's Moon Could Indicate it Once Had an Underground Ocean: If the icy surface of Pluto's giant moon Charon is cracked, analysis of the fractures could reveal if its interior was warm, perhaps warm enough to have maintained a subterranean ocean of liquid water, according to a new NASA-funded study."

Image Credit: NASA, ESA and G. Bacon (STScI)

 

Posted on NASA's Instagram on 26 May 2014

"All-American Salute - 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. Astronaut Charles M. Duke Jr., lunar module pilot, took this picture."

Image Credit: NASA

Posted on NASA's Instagram on 9 May 2014

"Spacewalk Training in the Pool! In November 2012, astronaut Reid Wiseman attired in training versions of their spacesuits, submerged in the waters of the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory near Johnson Space Center in Houston."

Image Credit: NASA 

Posted to NASA's Instagram on 13 June 2014

"Hubble Eyes Golden Rings of Star Formation Taking center stage in this new NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image is a galaxy known as NGC 3081, set against an assortment of glittering galaxies in the distance. Located in the constellation of Hydra (The Sea Serpent), NGC 3081 is located over 86 million light-years from us."

Image Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA; acknowledgement: R. Buta (University of Alabama)

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