Life before the EPA, a rocket in the Aurora Borealis, and more amazing images of the week

Newsworthy eye candy

Our Aging Universe

Light does more than just illuminate. It can also help chart the history of the universe. Astronomers in Hawaii captured this image—made with a combination of wide, deep, and ultra-deep imaging—to study light in the universe going back billions of years. Dimmer areas represent light emitted when the universe was much younger. The project has only just started, but so far, researchers have collected data equivalent to 10 million high school yearbook photos, all of which are available for perusal online.

Deep-Sea Jelly

The Pacific Ocean is full of mysteries, some of which are more opaque than others. But thanks to the work of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, we’re able to see new, high-resolution images of this deep-sea jellyfish, the rhopalonematid trachymedusa, doing it’s blobby thing. The little alien was filmed deep in the milky waters of the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa, where the administration currently runs a research expedition. [H/T Gizmodo.]

Aurora Rockets

NASA has its own earthly mysteries to study. This year, the administration is focusing its magnifying glass on the Aurora Borealis, the Arctic’s family friendly, all-natural light show. The goal of the “Auroral Arcs” mission is to understand what factors influence the formation of the physical phenomenon. To do so, they sent four rockets straight through it, and now plan to analyze the flight patterns. The idea is that the rocket’s landing is influenced by the same electric fields and physical forces that cause the Northern Lights’ movements.

Great Red Spot

There are a million reasons Elon Musk isn’t considering colonizing Jupiter. It’s one of the “gas giants,” so it probably lacks a totally solid center (meaning you could hypothetically travel through its core and pop out the other side), and it’s full of substances unfavorable to human survival including methane, ammonia, and hydrogen sulfide. It’s also home to the Great Red Spot, captured in this image from the Juno spacecraft. Don’t let the name fool you—this is not a vintage bedtime story. It’s actually a rollicking storm twice the diameter of Earth, and it’s not likely to blow over anytime soon. While we probably won’t ever visit, staring at it from afar is still pretty great.

Life Before The EPA

Rivers are not typically supposed to burn. In fact, they tend to be the sources of water used to put out a fire. But in 1952, Ohio’s Cuyahoga River caught on fire due to years of flammable manufacturing and sewage byproducts being expelled directly into it. This is part of the reason why the United States government formed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1970. Want to know what the rest of America was like before the EPA? Check it out, here.