• Orbital ATK’s Cygnus cargo craft is released from the International Space Station in this June 14, 2016, photograph by ESA astronaut Tim Peake. Once Cygnus reached a safe distance, ground controllers at NASA’s Glenn Research Center initiated the sequence for an experiment design to better understand how fire spreads in a microgravity environment.
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  • A test version of the Orion spacecraft is pulled back like a pendulum and released, taking a dive into the 20-foot-deep (6.1 meters) Hydro Impact Basin at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.
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  • The American flag flies at half staff at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, with the iconic Vehicle Assembly Building in the background. On Sunday, June 12, President Barack Obama ordered U.S. flags flown at half staff “as a mark of respect for the victims of the act of hatred and terror” at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.
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  • The drizzle of stars scattered across this image forms a galaxy known as UGC 4879. UGC 4879 is an irregular dwarf galaxy — as the name suggests, galaxies of this type are a little smaller and messier than their cosmic cousins, lacking the majestic swirl of a spiral or the coherence of an elliptical.
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  • This stunning Earth image taken by the Expedition 47 crew on May 31, 2016, from the International Space Station looks from northwestern China on the bottom into eastern Kazakhstan. The large lake in Kazakhstan with golden sun glint is the crescent-shaped Lake Balkhash, the second largest lake in Central Asia.
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  • A view of the Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) X-ray Timing Instrument without its protective blanketing shows a collection of 56 close-packed sunshades. NICER, an upcoming NASA astrophysics mission, will uncover the physics governing the ultra-dense interiors of neutron stars.
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  • Sand dunes cover much of this terrain, which has large boulders lying on flat areas between the dunes. It is late winter in the southern hemisphere of Mars, and these dunes are just getting enough sunlight to start defrosting their seasonal cover of carbon dioxide. Spots form where pressurized carbon dioxide gas escapes to the surface.
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  • Expedition 47 Flight Engineer Tim Peake of the European Space Agency photographed rare, high-altitude noctilucent or “night shining” clouds from the International Space Station on May 29, 2016. Noctilucent clouds form between 76 to 85 kilometers (47 to 53 miles) above the Earth’s surface, near the boundary of the mesosphere and thermosphere.
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  • This 10.5-billion-year-old globular cluster, NGC 6496, is home to heavy-metal stars of a celestial kind! The stars comprising this spectacular spherical cluster are enriched with much higher proportions of metals — elements heavier than hydrogen and helium are curiously known as metals in astronomy — than stars found in similar clusters.
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  • The Dark Side of Pluto
    NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft took this stunning image of Pluto only a few minutes after closest approach on July 14, 2015. The image was obtained at a high phase angle –that is, with the sun on the other side of Pluto, as viewed by New Horizons. Seen here, sunlight filters through and illuminates Pluto’s complex atmospheric haze layers.
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