NASA Pictures

NASA has the absolute best resources on the web for pictures of space. We write so many articles about space here on Universe Today, so we’ve learned all the best places to look to get the latest and greatest NASA pictures.

Before we go right to some sites, here’s a general tip that you can use when you’re looking for NASA pictures. Use Google, but have it search for images within NASA’s sites. For example, let’s say that you’re looking for an astronomy picture of Mars, but you want it to be a NASA image. Search in Google for: mars picture site:nasa.gov. You can also switch over to the images tab and see lots and lots of images from NASA. You should be able to find the one you’re looking for.

Perhaps the best place to start is NASA’s Featured Images and Galleries. This is linked from the main NASA page and features current pictures as well as classics from the past. It also links you to other NASA image gallery sites.

Another classic is the Astronomy Picture of the Day. Keep in mind that although it’s endorsed by NASA, the pictures featured in Astronomy Picture of the Day are owned and copyright by the original photographers. So you can’t just use their pictures without asking permission first.

There’s a fairly new service out called NASA Images. It’s got a huge catalog of NASA pictures, with cool tools that let you organize and download your favorites.

The NASA Image Exchange is a huge database of NASA pictures. You can search by object, or by spacecraft and use other constraints to find the exact image you’re looking for.

The Johnson Digital Image Collection has photographs from all of NASA’s human spaceflight, from the original Mercury and Gemini flights, though the Apollo landings, right up until the space shuttle missions.

And if you want pictures of Earth, check out NASA’s Visible Earth site or the NASA’s Earth Observatory.

If you want pictures from the Hubble Space Telescope, here’s their homepage HubbleSite.

Want NASA photos from specific spacecraft? Here’s NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, here are the Mars Exploration Rovers, and here’s Mercury MESSENGER.

That should get you started.

We have written many articles about NASA and its photography here on Universe Today. Check out this gallery of images from the STS-127 shuttle mission. And here are images from the shuttle mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope.

We have also recorded many episodes of Astronomy Cast about space, and we talk about NASA pictures all the time. Listen to this, Episode 88: The Hubble Space Telescope.

Milky Way Galaxy Pictures

Here are some beautiful pics of the Milky Way Galaxy. It’s important to remember that we live inside the Milky Way Galaxy, so there’s no way to show a true photograph of what the Milky Way looks like. We can see pictures of the Milky Way from inside it, or see artist illustrations of what the Milky Way might look like from outside.

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This Milky Way Galaxy picture shows what our galaxy would look like from above. You can see its spiral arms, dense core and the thin halo. The Milky Way is a common barred spiral galaxy. There are billions more just like it in the Universe.


Milky Way in infrared. Image credit: COBE
Milky Way in infrared. Image credit: COBE

This picture of the Milky Way was captured by NASA’s COBE satellite. This photograph was taken using the infrared spectrum, which allows astronomers to peer through the gas and dust that normally obscures the center of the Milky Way.


The plane of the Milky Way, recorded with the Chandra satellite in three colours: Photons with energies between 0.5 and 1keV appear red, those between 1 and 3keV green, and those between 3 and 7keV blue. Discrete sources are indicated by circles.  Image: Mikhail Revnivtsev
The plane of the Milky Way, recorded with the Chandra satellite in three colours: Photons with energies between 0.5 and 1keV appear red, those between 1 and 3keV green, and those between 3 and 7keV blue. Discrete sources are indicated by circles. Image: Mikhail Revnivtsev

This image of the Milky Way Galaxy was taken with the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, which can see in the X-Ray spectrum. In this view, only high energy emissions are visible, such as the radiation emitted from black holes and other high energy objects.


Artist's concept shows young, blue stars encircling a supermassive black hole at the core of a spiral galaxy like the Milky Way.Credit: NASA, ESA, and A. Schaller (for STScI)
Artist's concept shows young, blue stars encircling a supermassive black hole at the core of a spiral galaxy like the Milky Way.Credit: NASA, ESA, and A. Schaller (for STScI)

Here’s an artist’s impression of what a galaxy like the Milky Way might have looked like early in its history. This image shows a supermassive black hole with young blue stars circling it.


Milky_Way_infrared_mosaic.  Credit:  Spitzer Space Telescope
Milky_Way_infrared_mosaic. Credit: Spitzer Space Telescope

This is a mosaic image of the Milky Way captured by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. It was built up by several photographs taken by Spitzer, which sees in the infrared spectrum, and can peer through obscuring dust.