Space Photos of the Week: How Stars Get 86’d

In true space exploration fashion, let’s start locally and expand our horizons universally this week. On Mars, we can chill next to Curiosity and watch the water ice clouds go by. Mars was once an active world, and its volcanoes (the solar system’s largest) and red clay cliffs look like backdrops from Star Wars. (And now we know the planet even has Marsquakes .) But sometimes this dusty planet can seem quite serene, almost lonely—especially when we imagine rovers like Curiosity and others cruising around, by themselves, looking up.

Our next stop is on the asteroid Bennu and the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, as it prepares to collect a sample from this ancient space chunk. Seems like a pretty straightforward task, but the mission has hit a snag. The spacecraft carries a tiny container for some dirt and pebbles, and Bennu’s surface looks like it’s all rubble. What’s NASA doing about this? Asking the public for help, of course: Folks around the world are now sorting through images of Bennu’s surface, counting rocks and identifying the best possible sampling sites. For those about to rock, we salute you!

Our Sun, moon, and neighboring planets might seem cute, but make no mistake, space is no picnic and certainly no garden party. Sometimes a star can get kicked out of its host galaxy, for no reason other than being in the wrong place at the wrong time. When really massive stars die, they explode into a supernova, and then there’s a chance the core of the dying star collapses in on itself, creating a neutron star. Yet this collapse may not be symmetrical—resulting in an off-kilter force so strong that it expels not just the one dead star, but a nearby one too. "It’s like a guest that's asked to leave a party with a rowdy friend," Xiangyu Jin of McGill University tells NASA. Now that’s something we can all relate to.

If you have to leave one place, remember this: There’s always another party, just like WIRED has more space photos, right here .

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