Astronaut Dale A. Gardner, getting his turn in the Manned Maneuvering Unit, prepares to dock with the spinning WESTAR VI satellite during the STS-51A mission in 1985. Gardner used a large tool called the Apogee Kick Motor Capture Device to enter the nozzle of a spent WESTAR VI engine and stabilize the communications spacecraft sufficiently to capture it for return to Earth in the cargo bay of the space shuttle Discovery. NASA
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has discovered the smallest object ever seen in visible light in the Kuiper Belt, a vast ring of icy debris that is encircling the outer rim of the solar system just beyond Neptune. This artist's concept of the needle-in-a-haystack object found by Hubble is only 3,200 feet across and a whopping 4.2 billion miles away. The smallest Kuiper Belt Object (KBO) seen previously in reflected light is roughly 30 miles across, or 50 times larger. NASA
Located about 5,000 light years from Earth, this composite image shows the Rosette star formation region. Data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory are colored red and outlined by a white line. The X-rays reveal hundreds of young stars in the central cluster and fainter clusters on either side. X-ray (NASA/CXC/SAO/J. Wang et al), Optical (DSS & NOAO/AURA/NSF/KPNO 0.9-m/T. Rector et al)
Giant planet GJ 436b in the constellation Leo is missing something--and that something is swamp gas. To the surprise of astronomers who have been studying the Neptune-sized planet using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, GJ 436b has very little methane--an ingredient common to many planets in our own solar system. This artist's concept shows the unusual, methane-free world partially eclipsed by its star. NASA/JPL-Caltech
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope caught the Boomerang Nebula in images taken with the Advanced Camera for Surveys in early 2005. This reflecting cloud of dust and gas has two nearly symmetric lobes of matter that are being ejected from a central star. Each lobe of the nebula is nearly one light-year in length, making the total length of the nebula half as long as the distance from our Sun to our nearest neighbors- the Alpha Centauri stellar system, located roughly 4 light-years away. NASA/ESA/R. Sahai and J. Trauger/Jet Propulsion Laboratory/WFPC2 Science Team
Astronaut Kathryn C. Thornton works with equipment associated with servicing the Hubble Space Telescope during the fourth extravehicular activity on the eleven-day STS-61 mission in 1993. NASA
Astronaut Robert L. Curbeam, Jr., STS-98 mission specialist, was photographed during the second of three spacewalks by a member of the Expedition 1 crew in the newly installed Destiny laboratory in 2001. NASA
Arp 220 is a galaxy in the constellation Serpens, 250 million light-years away. This image is a composite of many separate exposures made by the ACS instrument on the Hubble Space Telescope using several different filters. NASA/ESA/C. Wilson
This Voyager 2 high resolution color image, taken 2 hours before closest approach, provides obvious evidence of vertical relief in Neptune's bright cloud streaks. The linear cloud forms are stretched approximately along lines of constant latitude and the Sun is toward the lower left. The bright sides of the clouds which face the Sun are brighter than the surrounding cloud deck because they are more directly exposed to the sun. NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
This image of the northern portion of the Nile River was captured by MISR's nadir camera on January 30, 2001. The Nile is the longest river in the world, extending for about 4,100 miles from its headwaters in the highlands of eastern Africa. At the apex of the fertile Nile River Delta is the Egyptian capital city of Cairo. To the west are the Great Pyramids of Giza. NASA/GSFC/JPL, MISR Team
Fidel Castro, the former leader of Cuba, finally shares his opinion of the restored diplomacy between the two countries that share a difficult past.
ByDaniel Trotta, Reuters
Retired Cuban leader Fidel Castro on Monday appeared to lend his support to talks with the United States in his first comments about his longtime adversary since both countries agreed last month to restore diplomatic ties.