Space Photos of the Week: Hubble Is Crabby Over Its Birthday

We may have seen the Crab Nebula before, but never like this. The Hubble Space Telescope just had its 29th anniversary, and instead of taking a day off, it went to work taking pictures of this nebula. It’s made up of two stars, a red giant and a white dwarf that are swirling around each other along with their debris. This gravitational dance results in an hourglass-shaped nebula—not literally a crab, if you ask us, but stunning nonetheless.

You’re looking at one of the four linked telescopes in Chile’s Cerro Paranal. The many clear nights up in the high desert mean that these instruments are powerful observers! Notice the arm of the Milky Way stretching across the upper right of the frame.

The fact that Martian ice is both water and carbon dioxide makes for some interesting images. NASA’s Mars Odyssey spacecraft captured this photo of the swirling polar ice cap of Mars. The reds, oranges, and whites constitute the ice cap, while the purples and greens are other material—likely dirt and rock. This particular mixture of water ice and frozen carbon dioxide has taken millions of years to build up. But, like on our own planet, during the warmer seasons some of the cap melts and is later rebuilt.

This blue landslide is a steep set of troughs called Cerberus Fossae in the Elysium Mons region of Mars. Elysium Mons happens to be one of the dormant Martian volcanoes, and was instrumental in creating these troughs. Landslides on Mars are called “mass wasting,” shown here as dark blue terrain.

Think you’re a cool cat? Do you like sharing cat pics? Then you might appreciate this comet—one we are very familiar with, called 67P. The ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft spent years orbiting this astral body taking photos from every angle, including one that transforms this icy rock into feline likeness … and putting your earthbound cat pics to shame. Might as well start licking your wounds.

This week NASA announced that the seismometer on its InSight spacecraft recorded its first Marsquake. Seen here is the weather shield that protects the sensitive instrument, as well as the arm that set it safely down on the surface. The quake was pretty small, but big enough to be detected and usher in a new branch of astronomy—Martian seismology.