Fifty years ago this week, Scott Carpenter flew the second American crewed orbital flight on May 24, 1962.

In his Aurora 7 spacecraft, Carpenter carried out three revolutions of the earth. In the photo shown in the slideshow below, Carpenter is about to be positioned in the craft to undertake the mission. Just seven years later, Neil Armstrong would be doing much more than orbiting the planet, he would take the first steps on the moon.

On of Nasa's main missions it to explore space for signs of life. Mars is a focus with the Mars Rover mission. Nasa has found carbon compounds inside Mars meteorites like the one pictured, which is 4.5 billion years old. Meteorite ALH84001 is one of 10 Mars rocks which contain organic carbon compounds, which Nasa says were created without life.


Mars Rover Opportunity took a shot of itself in a Martian late-afternoon shadow this week. The shot looks eastward across the Endeavour Crater. The shot is presented in "false colour" to help show the different materials on Mars' surface. Dark dunes can be seen on the crater floor.

The first ever evidence of a supernova was spotted by the Chandra X-Ray Observatory. The X-ray shows a supernova shockwave ripping through the gas cloud that surrounds an exploded star.

Annular Solar Eclipse Delights Over The Pacific
Night Sky Timelapse: Milky Way Rising Over Lake Tekapo
Amazing Mars Gif, Black Hole Squashes Stars
The Milky Way's 100 Billion Planets, Tarantula Nebula, A Dying Star

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  • Carpenter's Flight -50 years ago today, Scott Carpenter flew the second American manned orbital flight on May 24, 1962. He piloted his Aurora 7 spacecraft through three revolutions of the earth. In this photo, taken on May 24, 1962, Astronaut M. Scott Carpenter looks into his Mercury-Atlas 7 spacecraft, the Aurora 7, before being inserted to begin the launch (NASA)

  • Carbon Compounds from Mars Found Inside Meteorites This 4.5 billion-year-old rock, labeled meteorite ALH84001, is one of 10 rocks from Mars in which researchers have found organic carbon compounds that originated on Mars without involvement of life. Organic carbon compounds are chemical ingredients for life, but can be created by non-biological processes as well as by biological processes. The report of finding Martian organic carbon in this and nine other meteorites was published in May 2012. This same meteorite, ALH84001, was earlier the subject of analysis that led to a report that it might contain fossils from Mars. That claim was subsequently strongly challenged. The rock is a portion of a meteorite that was dislodged from Mars by a huge impact about 16 million years ago and that fell to Earth in Antarctica approximately 13,000 years ago. The meteorite was found in Allan Hills ice field, Antarctica, by an annual expedition of the National Science Foundation's Antarctic Meteorite Program in 1984. It is preserved for study at the Johnson Space Center's Meteorite Processing Laboratory in Houston. The rock is about 3.5 inches (9 centimeters) across (NASA/JSC/Stanford University)

  • Opportunity's Selfie - NASA's Mars Rover Opportunity catches its own late-afternoon shadow in this dramatically lit view eastward across Endeavour Crater on Mars. The rover used the panoramic camera (Pancam) between about 4:30 and 5:00 p.m. local Mars time to record images taken through different filters and combined into this mosaic view (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/Arizona State Univ)

  • A Supernova Cocoon Breakthrough Observations with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory have provided the first X-ray evidence of a supernova shock wave breaking through a cocoon of gas surrounding the star that exploded. This discovery may help astronomers understand why some supernovas are much more powerful than others (X-ray: NASA/CXC/Royal Military College of Canada/P.Chandra et al); Optical: NASA/STScI)

  • Psychedelic Space - This is a composite of a series of images photographed from a mounted camera on the Earth-orbiting International Space Station, from approximately 240 miles above Earth. Expedition 31 Flight Engineer Don Pettit said of the about photographic techniques used to achieve the images: "My star trail images are made by taking a time exposure of about 10 to 15 minutes. However, with modern digital cameras, 30 seconds is about the longest exposure possible, due to electronic detector noise effectively snowing out the image. To achieve the longer exposures I do what many amateur astronomers do. I take multiple 30-second exposures, then 'stack' them using imaging software, thus producing the longer exposure." A total of 18 images photographed by the astronaut-monitored stationary camera were combined to create this composite (NASA)

  • Psychedelic Space Redux This is a composite of a series of images photographed from a mounted camera on the Earth-orbiting International Space Station, from approximately 240 miles above Earth. (NASA)

  • Asteroid 1999 RQ36 - This radar image of asteroid 1999 RQ36 was obtained NASA's Deep Space Network antenna in Goldstone, Calif. on Sept 23, 1999. NASA detects, tracks and characterizes asteroids and comets passing close to Earth using both ground- and space-based telescopes. The Near-Earth Object Observations Program at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., commonly called "Spaceguard," discovers these objects, characterizes some of them, and plots their orbits to determine if any could be potentially hazardous to our planet. JPL manages the Near-Earth Object Program Office for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

  • SpaceX Falcon 9 Lifts Off The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket soars into space from Space Launch Complex-40 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 3:44 a.m. EDT, carrying the Dragon capsule to orbit. The launch is the company's second demonstration test flight for NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services Program, known as COTS. During the flight, the Dragon will conduct a series of check-out procedures to test and prove its systems, including rendezvous and berthing with the International Space Station (NASA/Alan Ault)