Moon Maps, Doughnuts In Space, And Other Amazing Images Of The Week

Cute animals are an added bonus

Pluto In Color

Even though it looks like it was taken on a flip phone, this is actually the first-ever color image of everyone’s favorite dwarf planet. It was taken by NASA’s approaching New Horizons spacecraft from a distance of 71 million miles. The smaller blob is Pluto’s largest moon Charon, which is about the size of Texas. This was a preliminary reconstruction by the New Horizons science team. Later NASA released more high-resolution Pluto photos from New Horizons, such as this one.

A Clean Cranium

You might think you’re dedicated to your job, but you’ve probably got nothing on MIT professor Nancy Kanwisher, who shaved her head for a particularly visual neuroanatomy lesson. A graduate student drew the different parts of the brain on the professor’s bare scalp to help students understand the organ’s different functions. “Scientists do lots of crazy things,” Kanwisher says. You’ve got that right, professor.

Tie-Dye Ceres

This map of Ceres is an enhanced color view that combines visible and infrared data from the asteroid’s surface. Scientists are using it to examine Ceres’ composition and past geological activity. The colorful map was created from images taken by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft as it approached the celestial body.

Rambo the Octopus

Meet the world’s first octographer–an octopus photographer, that is. At Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium in Auckland, New Zealand, visitors can pay $2 to have their photo taken by this artsy animal. Rambo was trained to press the bright red button at the sound of a buzzer, delighting guests in the process.

Moon Maps

This beautiful map was a long time in the making. The U.S. Geological Survey created detailed maps of the Moon’s topography using more than 6.5 billion measurements, all collected between 2009 and 2013 by the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter.

Camera-Shy Monkeys

Bouvier’s red colobus monkey is a hide-and-seek expert: this is the first picture ever taken of the rare monkey, which some scientists thought was extinct. The species was last seen in the 1970s, but those sightings were unverified. Primate researchers found these two monkeying around in a forest in the Republic of the Congo.

Neon Scenery

Who knew planes could be so artsy? An aircraft created this 3D map by firing laser pulses as it mapped the landscape of the Ágota-puszta nature reserve in Hungary. Types of vegetation are represented in different colors, creating this splashy landscape


Talk about a sugar high: Last week, two Swedish brothers launched a doughnut 20 miles into the stratosphere on a weather balloon. “We had the idea that we should send something really crazy up into space and thought, ‘Hey, nobody has ever sent a doughnut up before,'” said Alexander Jönsson, who launched the sprinkled spaceship with his brother.

You Are Here

Disneyland had it right–it really is a small world after all. This map illustrates how small our solar system is in the grand scheme of the Milky Way, and it shows how much exploring we have left to do. Even though scientists have found 1,800 exoplanets and 4,600 possible exoplanets so far, we’ve barely scratched the surface of our 100,000-light-year-wide galaxy.

Calm Before The Storm

This is the SpaceX rocket, moments before it landed. Just after this picture was taken, the rocket landed but toppled over. With this rocket, the company tried to take a step toward making reusable rockets a reality. Maybe next time, SpaceX!