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December 2021



The Biden-Harris Administration has extended International Space Station operations through 2030.


2021 was the busiest year yet for NASA in low-Earth orbit, we also made progress preparing for a flight test around the Moon, and had a very active year exploring space, studying Earth, testing technologies for next generation aircraft, and much more. Here's a look back at those and other things we did this year at NASA.


A review of NASA's missions, residents, and science on board the International Space Station in 2021.


Jupiter's atmosphere is one of the most turbulent places in the solar system.


This enhanced-color image of Mars' Jezero Crater was taken by the Mastcam-Z instrument aboard NASA's Perseverance rover on April 18, 2021.


This enhanced image of the Jovian moon Ganymede was obtained by the JunoCam imager aboard NASA's Juno spacecraft during the mission's June 7, 2021, flyby of the icy moon on Juno's 34th pass close to Jupiter.


A new paper led by Cedars-Sinai identifies opportunities using space-based technologies to manufacture stem cells, create advanced disease models and expand 3D printing capabilities.


The smooth post-paunch planned operations of the James Webb Space Telescope continued apace today.


The astronauts and cosmonauts of Expedition 66 worked throughout Wednesday on U.S. and Russian spacesuits.


This view from NASA spacewalker Thomas Marshburn's camera points toward his U.S. spacesuit legs, downward from the Canadarm2 robotic arm that he is attached to, and toward the International Space Station below him.


Adam's Bridge is a 48 km long chain of limestone shoals, that were formerly a land bridge between India and Sri Lanka.


This image shows two of Jupiter's large rotating storms, captured by Juno's visible-light imager, JunoCam, on Juno's 38th perijove pass, on Nov. 29, 2021.


Based on a Context Camera image, the rationale for this observation is to get a closer look at this layered butte.


As the James Webb Space Telescope continues its voyage to L2, the news from NASA is all good.


The Expedition 66 crew members continue unpacking the SpaceX Cargo Dragon vehicle and initiating brand new microgravity investigations.


Sometimes, we acquire an image for the simple reason of getting either more coverage of an area, and/or to complete a mosaic of a particular spot.


Researchers have identified the first signature of a magnetic field surrounding a planet outside of our solar system.


Scientists at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory evaluate early data the ESA/NASA Solar Orbiter spacecraft sent back to Earth as it observes comet Leonard, a mass of space dust, rock and ice just over half a mile across (1 kilometer) as it heads inbound to the sun.


NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory contributes to the understanding of planetary nebulas by studying the hottest and most energetic processes still at work in these beautiful objects.


The Webb team at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, is especially proud reflecting on their work for the mission, which spans more than two decades and primarily focused on development and testing of the mirrors in extreme cold temperatures at which Webb will operate.


These lovely linear dunes at Meroe Patera identified in Context Camera images that have developed in a sand starved region of the dune field, elongating from behind a cliff.


Using observations and archival data from several of NSF's NOIRLab's observatories, together with observations from telescopes around the world and in orbit, astronomers have discovered at least 70 new free-floating planets -- planets that wander through space without a parent star -- in a nearby region of the Milky Way.


In one of the most exciting developments in astronomy in the 21st century, NASA is launching the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) today--and Northern Arizona University astronomers, planetary astronomers and their students will be using the massive observatory to expand their research and advance our understanding of the solar system.


The seven-member Expedition 66 crew is going into the final week of 2021 with a host of science experiments exploring numerous space phenomena benefitting astronauts in space and humans on Earth.


Yesterday the gimbaled antenna assembly (GAA) was released and today the James Webb Space Telescope will fly past the Moon and perform another mid-course correction.


Scientists have unravelled a fascinating new insight into how the landscape of the dwarf-planet Pluto has formed.


The distinctively fluted surface and elongated hills in this image in Medusae Fossae are caused by wind erosion of a soft fine-grained rock.


Every so often, the Kuiper Belt and Oort Cloud throw galactic snowballs made up of ice, dust and rocks our way: 4.6-billion-year-old leftovers from the formation of the solar system.


At 7:50 pm EST, December 25, 2021, Webb's first mid-course correction burn began.


Arianespace's Ariane 5 rocket launches with NASA's James Webb Space Telescope onboard, Saturday, Dec. 25, 2021, from the ELA-3 Launch Zone of Europe's Spaceport at the Guiana Space Centre in Kourou, French Guiana.


The launch of the James Webb Space Telescope was successful however the journey to its observing position at Earth's Lagrange 2 point, some 1.5 million kilometers away continues. As the mission continues we'll provide updates as they happen. In the meantime you can watch a replay of the phenomenal and smooth launch.


The James Webb Space Telescope is safely in space, powered on and communicating with ground controllers.


An orbital sunrise is pictured from the International Space Station as it orbited 262 miles above Bolivia on the South American continent.


Russia's newest docking module, known as Prichal and still attached to the Progress delivery vehicle, is pictured docked to the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module as the International Space Station orbited into a sunrise 260 miles above the Central African Republic.


Earth and Mars were formed from material that largely originated in the inner Solar System; only a few percent of the building blocks of these two planets originated beyond Jupiter's orbit.


Arianespace's Ariane 5 rocket with NASA's James Webb Space Telescope onboard, is rolled out to the launch pad, Thursday, Dec. 23, 2021, at Europe's Spaceport, the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana.


Lake Tuz was once the second-largest lake in Turkey. Flamingos flocked there to feed and nest.


The SpaceX Cargo Dragon arrived just in time to deliver holiday treats, crew supplies and new science experiments to the Expedition 66 crew today.


While the International Space Station was traveling more than 260 miles over the South Pacific Ocean, a SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft autonomously docked to the space-facing side of the orbiting laboratory's Harmony module at 3:41 a.m. EST, Wednesday, Dec. 22.


NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory contributes to the understanding of planetary nebulas by studying the hottest and most energetic processes still at work in these beautiful objects.


New Horizons remains healthy and continues to send valuable data from deep in the Kuiper Belt - more than 5 billion miles away -- even as it speeds farther and farther from the Earth and Sun.


Isolation affects people in different ways. Studies on how humans cope with stress in a secluded environment and with little social interaction are useful to learn about ourselves in challenging times - and to test whether our species is fit for long journeys to other planets.


Astronomers have produced the most comprehensive image of radio emission from the nearest actively feeding supermassive black hole to Earth.


Meteorites are remnants of the building blocks that formed Earth and the other planets orbiting our Sun.


Rogue planets are elusive cosmic objects that have masses comparable to those of the planets in our Solar System but do not orbit a star, instead roaming freely on their own.


SpX-24 Launch: Today, the SpaceX-24 Dragon spacecraft launched aboard a Falcon 9 rocket at 4:07AM CST.


Join ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer inside the seven-windowed cupola, the International Space Station's "window to the world" and pan around to enjoy the view.


NASA and Arianespace successfully completed the Launch Readiness Review for the James Webb Space Telescope on Dec. 21.


A SpaceX Dragon resupply spacecraft carrying more than 6,500 pounds of science experiments, crew supplies, and other cargo is on its way to the International Space Station after launching at 5:07 a.m. EST Tuesday from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.


Cross Crater, about 65 kilometers in diameter, is located in the highlands of the Terra Sirenum region of Mars.


The Daily Atmospheric Ionospheric Limb Imager (DAILI) CubeSat successfully launched aboard the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at 5:07 a.m. EST on Dec. 21, 2021 from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.


When Comet Leonard, a mass of space dust, rock and ice about a half-mile (1 kilometer) wide, makes its closest pass of the Sun on Jan. 3, 2022, it will be a journey 40,000 years in the making.


SpaceX has rolled out its Falcon 9 rocket with the Cargo Dragon vehicle attached to the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.


I recently celebrated my five-year anniversary at NASA. Over these past 5 years, we have seen great success with NASA's Science missions.


A waxing crescent Moon during is pictured from the International Space Station during an orbital sunset as it flew 268 miles above the Pacific Ocean east of New Zealand.


NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory contributes to the understanding of planetary nebulas by studying the hottest and most energetic processes still at work in these beautiful objects.


In science fiction stories about contact with extraterrestrial civilisations, there is a problem: What kind of propulsion system could make it possible to bridge the enormous distances between the stars?


Katriin Kristmann, a doctoral student in chemical and materials science at TalTech (Tallinn University of Technology), began research aimed at developing technology for the production of monograin layer solar cells on the Moon.


NASA has completed assembly of the upper, or forward, part of the core stage for the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket that will send the Artemis II crew on their lunar mission.


Next week will see a U.S. resupply ship launch toward the International Space Station following Sunday's departure of three orbiting lab visitors.


SpaceCast Weekly is a NASA Television broadcast from the Johnson Space Center in Houston featuring stories about NASA's work in human spaceflight.


NASA's Space to Ground is your weekly update on what's happening aboard the International Space Station.


This mosaic depicts the International Space Station pictured from the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour during a fly around of the orbiting lab that took place following its undocking from the Harmony module's space-facing port on Nov. 8, 2021.


NASA's massive Space Launch System (SLS) rocket for the agency's Artemis I mission is shown fully stacked - with NASA's Orion spacecraft atop - inside Kennedy Space Center's Vehicle Assembly Building on Dec. 13, 2021.


Ahead of the upcoming Ariane 5 launch of the James Webb Space Telescope, the Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission takes us over Kourou - home to Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana, an overseas department of France.


The seven-member Expedition 66 crew spent Thursday servicing physics research gear and exercise hardware aboard the International Space Station.


Heaven Lake rests in the crater of the active volcano Paektu Mountain that lies on the China-North Korea border.


This Hubble Space Telescope image captures a portion of the reflection nebula IC 2631, which contains a protostar, the hot, dense core of a forming star that is accumulating gas and dust.


North of Ganges Chasma lies Orson Welles Crater, whose floor contains broken up blocks we call chaotic terrain and which is the source for the major outflow channel Shalbatana Vallis.


Dr. Agata Karska from the Institute of Astronomy at the Faculty of Physics, Astronomy and Informatics, NCU (Torun, Poland), has focused her scientific interest on UV radiation observed in the vicinity of protostars and its meaning for the formation of new objects as well as planetary systems surrounding them.


Scientists have found four enormous cavities, or bubbles, at the center of a galaxy cluster using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory.


Krypton from the Earth's mantle, collected from geologic hot spots in Iceland and the Galapagos Islands, reveals a clearer picture of how our planet formed, according to new research from the University of California, Davis.


Wednesday's research schedule aboard the International Space Station highlighted the human muscular and circulatory systems as well as botany.


New modeling suggests large, high-speed impacts during Venus' early history could reconcile the differences between Venus and its rocky sister planet, Earth.


An international team of astronomers led by researcher Chervin Laporte of the Institute of Cosmos Sciences of the University of Barcelona (ICCUB-IEEC) has revealed a new map of the Milky Way's outer disc using data from the Gaia space misison.