Reaching out into space yields benefits on Earth. Many of these have practical applications — but there’s something more than that. Call it inspiration, perhaps, what photographer Ansel Adams referred to as nature’s “endless prospect of magic and wonder."
Our ongoing exploration of the solar system has yielded more than a few magical images. Why not keep some of them close by to inspire your own explorations? This week, we offer 10 planetary photos suitable for wallpapers on your desktop or phone. Find many more in our galleries. These images were the result of audacious expeditions into deep space; as author Edward Abbey said, "May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view.”
1. Martian Selfie
This self-portrait of NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover shows the robotic geologist in the “Murray Buttes” area on lower Mount Sharp. Key features on the skyline of this panorama are the dark mesa called “M12” to the left of the rover’s mast and pale, upper Mount Sharp to the right of the mast. The top of M12 stands about 23 feet (7 meters) above the base of the sloping piles of rocks just behind Curiosity. The scene combines approximately 60 images taken by the Mars Hand Lens Imager, or MAHLI, camera at the end of the rover’s robotic arm. Most of the component images were taken on September 17, 2016.
NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft captured this high-resolution, enhanced color view of Pluto on July 14, 2015. The image combines blue, red and infrared images taken by the Ralph/Multispectral Visual Imaging Camera (MVIC). Pluto’s surface sports a remarkable range of subtle colors, enhanced in this view to a rainbow of pale blues, yellows, oranges, and deep reds. Many landforms have their own distinct colors, telling a complex geological and climatological story that scientists have only just begun to decode.
On July 19, 2013, in an event celebrated the world over, our Cassini spacecraft slipped into Saturn’s shadow and turned to image the planet, seven of its moons, its inner rings — and, in the background, our home planet, Earth. This mosaic is special as it marks the third time our home planet was imaged from the outer solar system; the second time it was imaged by Cassini from Saturn’s orbit, the first time ever that inhabitants of Earth were made aware in advance that their photo would be taken from such a great distance.
Before leaving the Pluto system forever, New Horizons turned back to see Pluto backlit by the sun. The small world’s haze layer shows its blue color in this picture. The high-altitude haze is thought to be similar in nature to that seen at Saturn’s moon Titan. The source of both hazes likely involves sunlight-initiated chemical reactions of nitrogen and methane, leading to relatively small, soot-like particles called tholins. This image was generated by combining information from blue, red and near-infrared images to closely replicate the color a human eye would perceive.
A huge storm churning through the atmosphere in Saturn’s northern hemisphere overtakes itself as it encircles the planet in this true-color view from Cassini. This picture, captured on February 25, 2011, was taken about 12 weeks after the storm began, and the clouds by this time had formed a tail that wrapped around the planet. The storm is a prodigious source of radio noise, which comes from lightning deep within the planet’s atmosphere.
Jupiter is still just as stormy today, as seen in this recent view from NASA’s Juno spacecraft, when it soared directly over Jupiter’s south pole on February 2, 2017, from an altitude of about 62,800 miles (101,000 kilometers) above the cloud tops. From this unique vantage point we see the terminator (where day meets night) cutting across the Jovian south polar region’s restless, marbled atmosphere with the south pole itself approximately in the center of that border. This image was processed by citizen scientist John Landino. This enhanced color version highlights the bright high clouds and numerous meandering oval storms.
X-rays stream off the sun in this image showing observations from by our Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, overlaid on a picture taken by our Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). The NuSTAR data, seen in green and blue, reveal solar high-energy emission. The high-energy X-rays come from gas heated to above 3 million degrees. The red channel represents ultraviolet light captured by SDO, and shows the presence of lower-temperature material in the solar atmosphere at 1 million degrees.
This image from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows Victoria crater, near the equator of Mars. The crater is approximately half a mile (800 meters) in diameter. It has a distinctive scalloped shape to its rim, caused by erosion and downhill movement of crater wall material. Since January 2004, the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity has been operating in the region where Victoria crater is found. Five days before this image was taken in October 2006, Opportunity arrived at the rim of the crater after a drive of more than over 5 miles (9 kilometers). The rover can be seen in this image, as a dot at roughly the “ten o'clock” position along the rim of the crater. (You can zoom in on the full-resolution version here.)
Last, but far from least, is this remarkable new view of our home planet. Last week, we released new global maps of Earth at night, providing the clearest yet composite view of the patterns of human settlement across our planet. This composite image, one of three new full-hemisphere views, provides a view of the Americas at night from the NASA-NOAA Suomi-NPP satellite. The clouds and sun glint — added here for aesthetic effect — are derived from MODIS instrument land surface and cloud cover products.
Donald Trump is so spectacularly horrible that it’s hard to look away – especially now that he’s discovered bombs. But precisely because everyone’s staring gape-mouthed in his direction, other world leaders are able to get away with almost anything. Don’t believe me? Look one country north, at Justin Trudeau.
Look all you want, in fact – he sure is cute, the planet’s only sovereign leader who appears to have recently quit a boy band. And he’s mastered so beautifully the politics of inclusion: compassionate to immigrants, insistent on including women at every level of government. Give him great credit where it’s deserved: in lots of ways he’s the anti-Trump, and it’s no wonder Canadians swooned when he took over.
But when it comes to the defining issue of our day, climate change, he’s a brother to the old orange guy in Washington.
Not rhetorically: Trudeau says all the right things, over and over. He’s got no Scott Pruitts in his cabinet: everyone who works for him says the right things. Indeed, they specialize in getting others to say them too – it was Canadian diplomats, and the country’s environment minister, Catherine McKenna, who pushed at the Paris climate talks for a tougher-than-expected goal: holding the planet’s rise in temperature to 1.5C (2.7F).
But those words are meaningless if you keep digging up more carbon and selling it to people to burn, and that’s exactly what Trudeau is doing. He’s hard at work pushing for new pipelines through Canada and the US to carry yet more oil out of Alberta’s tar sands, which is one of the greatest climate disasters on the planet.
Last month, speaking at a Houston petroleum industry gathering, he got a standing ovation from the oilmen for saying: “No country would find 173bn barrels of oil in the ground and just leave them there.”
Yes, 173bn barrels is indeed the estimate for recoverable oil in the tar sands. So let’s do some math. If Canada digs up that oil and sells it to people to burn, it will produce, according to the math whizzes at Oil Change International, 30% of the carbon necessary to take us past the 1.5C target that Canada helped set in Paris.
That is to say, Canada, which represents one half of 1% of the planet’s population, is claiming the right to sell the oil that will use up a third of the earth’s remaining carbon budget. Trump is a creep and a danger and unpleasant to look at, but at least he’s not a stunning hypocrite.
I’m tired of being sad and having no clue as to why I am this way, so I’ll write about the happy bits of me and why I smile. I dance when I’m alone, when the music gets just right and I’m sure that no one is watching, it’s okay to feel lonely, I used to not like the idea of it, but once you’re comfortable in your own skin even depression starts to feel like a breeze. I’m reading a book that says we are the beliefs and thoughts that we think and believe in. So if I say that I’m happy a thousand times, one of those will come back as true. So if I say I’ll find the love of my life some day, some day she’ll appear in front of me while I’m writing another poem. It’s good to have goals, the only goal I’ve ever had up until recently was to keep myself happy with someone else, that’s not a goal, but an illusion. You can’t live your life for someone else, it’s called your life for a reason. Happiness must happen when I say so, so I’m saying so. We bring into this world the kind of kindness that we’ve been dealt, so when I fake a smile, my mother is omnipresent. Although it’s not real, fake it until you make it, right? The book also says, spend more time doing things that make you lose track of time, so I decided to write again and more often than not, to not compare myself to others because once you start doing that, there’s no going back. I don’t write like someone else, I write like myself. I don’t think like anyone that I know, there’s just you and the beautifully twisted world, we’re all trying to find redemption inside of coral skies and trustworthy friends. I would break my own hand to contain my anger, it is contained. Happiness is what we make it, so if I say that it exists, then it will be so. Listening to your guidance, that makes me happy. You know who you are. Breathless to the words, you paint the sunrise with your pinky and promise that as long as I’m here today, tomorrow will not be filled with sorrow. I keep writing letters to the future person that I will be, I wonder if I’ll change. I probably will, we all do in one way or another. I’m the kind of person that snaps a picture of the sky while I’m driving, I’m reckless, but we’re still alive. Life’s too short and I need to be more careful, I’m certain that death has given up a few passes for me. Do you ever feel like you’re running out of time? Like there’s something trying to make a statement, a lost word that even google couldn’t even get its hands on. Do you ever feel like no one’s really listening? We’re all selfish in the end, but the ones that truly listen– they are the ones that I live for. I maintain online friendships better than I do with my siblings, I guess our thinking is just on different frequencies. On the topic of frequencies– the you that you would like to be is out there, you just need to listen. Hear the right words said by the right person and you’ll be in the right spot to be the you that you’d want to be in this life. Do you ever feel like you’re not good enough? Remember that thing I said about thoughts? Sometimes we just need to let go a little bit, embrace the art of it. To be left to the wind, the unknown will bring us to more adventures and you may not be loved by many, but there’s a chance that you will be– why not take it? I would like to break out of this, I want to smile more and to laugh a little louder, I just want to make myself proud of who I will be versus who I used to be. And you can’t turn back the hands of time, you cannot change your mistakes– they are permanent, but you are not. There is a fire inside of your chest and if you keep suffocating yourself with an indescribable pain then you’ll only suffer in a incomprehensible way. I just want to fill this world with more love and less pain, I see a butterfly and I’m easily distracted– how beauty will fly past you if you’re not even paying attention because you’re so damn sad all of the time. So I drop all signs of negativity and lean towards the positive, I am the only vibe that’ll alter my moods, so I must feel more wealthy than a million silver spoons even if I don’t have any, so I must create the art that likes to spill from my fingertips, we live such short lives– why not be the best version of yourself? Who will you be if tomorrow was your last day on this planet? Will you cry because it’s over? Or will you search the ends of the earth until you’ve found the fountain of youth? I’ve got a secret to share with you. You can be a 100 years old and still have the sweetest smile, you can be in your 20s and have a soul heavy enough to sink the titanic, life is strange, life is strange. We live our youth to buy pretty things, but live our oak days trying to make up more time– it waits for no one, the wrong turn will break you, a simple kiss will turn your thoughts into poetry and a life of self-hate is a road that needs constant validation– why not be your own way out? Be your own lover, be your own brand of music, be your own kind of poem, be your own story of kindness, and if you’re not perfect just look around– nobody is. I’m tired of dreaming, I want to build it instead. You can’t be who you want to be if you’re still having the same thoughts from last year– you can’t change or heal in the right way if you’re not willing to break a few pieces of your heart because the clutter inside of our minds often match the attitude that we give off. So like a quote, so like a poem, so like a bedtime story. If I repeat it enough times, I’ll be happy. I just want to be happy. I just want to let go of the bad feelings. I just want to love myself enough to see a brighter day. You can’t change the world if you can’t even change yourself, right? If I repeat it enough times, then it must be real. I will be happy. Sadness is a crucial emotion because without it, being delighted and euphoric wouldn’t be so dense, but that’s the beauty of the intensity to which we should love ourselves. I want to be so fucking glad to wake up today that it’ll just drown my depression into the white noise. I want to glow in the dark and live like the jellyfishes, give my poetry the immortality to always bring a smile onto the faces of those that love who I am even if I’m a bit flawed because at the end of the day– you’re the only one sleeping on your bed, you’re the only one who’s going to determine if you’ve got enough room to breathe, you’re the only one to have the last say if you’re art or not.
I wanted to write something happy for you–
yes, you. The person that’s reading this.
“You’d think they’d stop sending us on away missions,” he agreed. Honestly, between the poisonous plants of their last planet, and Lance’s tendency to always end up on the business end of every blaster or pointy ended stick, Allura was just being inefficient at this point.
Or, five times Keith kissed Lance but the situation was less than ideal, and one time Lance finally kissed him back. [5+1 Times]
supermassive black hole by epiproctan (NC-17, 7k) Summary:Keith has always known that he wasn’t going to get what he truly wants out of the arrangement, but he also hadn’t ever imagined that it would just…end.
aka that classic fic where lance wants to stop hooking up but keith wants something else entirely [Friends with Benefits, Mutual Pining]
you never stood a chance by kagshina (PG, 12k) Summary:lance to hunk ♡ >i’m gonna fukin die hunk oh mygod i sent >keith a work out selfie that i wan supposed to fcukin send to you and you know what it said >”BET YOU WANNA LICK THESE NIPS” >HUNK I WILL NEVE BE ABLE TO FCE HIM AGAIN I WANT TO DI E
(Or, Keith is beautiful, Lance has a crush, and there’s lots of shirtless selfies) [College AU/Snapchat]
Love and Other Questions by squirenonny (PG, 46.6k, WIP) Summary: One week after news of the Kerberos disaster broke, Pidge receives a new Mark–proof that Matt is still alive. She breaks into the Garrison to find him, only to find herself caught up in the fight for the fate of the universe.
Keith keeps his arms covered so he doesn’t have to watch Shiro’s scars compounding on his skin–but doing so means cutting off contact with his romantic soulmate, who greets him each morning with a new (and terrible) pickup line.
Shiro and Matt thought they were the luckiest people alive when they found out they were going to Kerberos together. But Shiro hasn’t seen Matt’s untidy scrawl on his arm in almost a year, and he has no idea if his soulmate is even still alive.
[Canonverse Soulmate AU with romantic and platonic soulmates (and some gray areas in between)] [Soulmates and Soulmate Marks, WIP]
Save a Horse (But Also Spare the Cowboy)by Mytay (PG, 0.8k) Summary:“Keith, did you just break out your Texas for me? Did you just make a space cowboy pun for me?” “No. Also, the fact that bad jokes turn you on explains so much.” [Space Cowboys]
That was the only thought in Lance’s mind right now, as he tried to make himself comfortable on the awkward nest of blankets, pillows, and sleeping bags. This was all Pidge’s fault. They’d offhandedly mentioned something about having a sleepover party once with their friends, and Allura had immediately picked up on the idea, insisting that it’d be “an excellent team-building opportunity”. And that was how the five Paladins of Voltron and the two Alteans had ended up building a sort of fort in the bridge of the Castle of Lions, and playing the most heinous game known to mankind.
Truth or Dare. [Team Bonding]
Your Love Has Shown Me Proof by freshia (PG, 22.4k) Summary:“This situation is a bit more complicated than we initially realized.” Lance raises an eyebrow, but Pidge is the one to question that. “Define complicated.” Allura takes no more time beating around the bush, “Well, I received a transmission. Keith and Lance–from the future, that is–would like to have their daughter back.”
or: Lance and Keith deal with a walking spoiler, in the form of a little girl who just wants to get back to her own home. [Time Travel, Kid Fic]
dynamic by kagshina (PG, 13.5k, WIP) Summary: “So, uh,” Keith starts, and Lance notices the way he shifts, like he’s not quite sure how to say what he wants to say. “How are we gonna…do this?”
Before answering the question, Lance makes a quick list in his head of things he should never do: Ask the boy he has a huge crush on to be his fake boyfriend for the sake of proving a point (even if Lance thinks he’s going to say no, because apparently he might actually say yes!) [Fake/Pretend Relationship, WIP]
You stole a BABY?! by genericfanatic (PG, 24.3k) Summary: The castle ship has a new stowaway, and Keith and Lance must figure out how to take care of them without alerting the rest of the crew. [Kid Fic, Accidental Baby Acquisition]
Rushing To Say Nothing by LynnLarsh (NC-17, 36.7k) Summary:“What the hell was that?” Keith says, sounding strangely pissed. Probably jealous; whatever happened, Lance is a lucky son of a bitch and Keith knows it. Coran clears his throat before answering, and when Lance finally pulls his eyes away from the crowd, that purplish blush from earlier has increased to a noticeable shade of violet across his cheeks. “It seems our boy Lance here has just been propositioned by the local brothel.”
A.k.a. That time Lance went into an alien brothel to prove a point and came out perhaps a little too enlightened.
The Little Things by fairietailed (G, 1.6k) Summary: On Friday Hunk can hear the two of them behind him as they walk to the control room, and he swears he hears something akin to a kiss, and Keith whispering.
“That’s 10-7, Cargo Pilot. Try catching up.”
When Hunk turns around Lance is bright red, and there’s a foot of space between him and Keith.Or maybe he’s imagining things? [Secret Relationship]
Marital Mayhem by genello (PG, 26k, WIP) Summary: Cornered by the Galra, Lance and Keith find shelter in a local temple. There’s just one problem—the natives seem to think the two of them are engaged. [Fake/Pretend Relationship, WIP]
Burning Love by TeaAndKittens (NC-17, 7k, WIP) Summary: An injury sustained on the job for firefighter Keith means an extended medical leave that makes him feel useless and angry. He’s so desperate to get back to his crew at Station 5 that he’s almost willing to try anything - except yoga. Especially after Hunk calls this friend of his that owns a yoga studio and Keith gets supporting evidence for his claim that only crazy people practice yoga.
Somehow, despite all of that, Hunk and Shiro manage to bully him into at least trying it. He shows up for that first class expecting to hate it. What he’s not expecting is for Hunk’s friend to be hot like the fire of a thousand suns. Or even more insane in person.
Or: Keith’s life. So Hard. [Firefighter/Yoga Instructor AU, WIP]
“Oh wait..wait, shit! Shit! Did I marry a hot babe last night? Talk about a wild birthday!” Lance crows, waving his arms with glee.
“No,” says Keith. “You married me.”
In which the paladins visit Las Vegas for Lance’s 21st birthday, Keith and Lance get married, Allura goes missing, Pidge gets arrested, and Shiro goes to the spa. [Accidentally Married in Vegas - still in universe not au! WIP]
Seven Daysby MilkTeaMiku (NR, 63.5k, Series) Summary: The Galra has a new weapon that de-ages the Paladins into babies for a week. [De-aged/Kid Fic]
Thank God For Hometowns by merycula (thanksillpass) (PG, 6.5k) Summary: Lance tells his grandparents that he has a boyfriend to get them off his back, and is forced to ask his neighbor Keith to pretend to date him when they come with a visit. [Fake Dating]
“Did god send you? Are you an angel?” Keith didn’t look very frightened as this concept of being dead worked its way out of him. Lance ran a hand through his own hair, smiling wryly.
“Please, eat the cracker, Keith.”
“What’s your name?” Keith’s voice cracked, desperately, excitedly. “Please. Who are you?”
“My name is Lance,” Lance paused, nerves sitting uncomfortably in the bottom of his stomach– deep, in the part he never searched. He licked his lips and ran a hand through his unwashed hair. “I’m, um, I’m your fiancé.” [Amnesia]
On Thin Iceby Minadora (R, 150k, WIP) Summary: This multi-chapter fic chronicles the lives of a hockey player named Keith who gets forcibly enlisted into figure skating lessons by his brother, Shiro, to “work on his footwork”. There he meets a pompous - yet talented - figure skater named Lance and gets swept away by both the sport and the skater. [Ice Hockey/Figure Skater AU]
a langst au where lance keeps getting told he talks to much, complains and flirts too much
lance stops talking altogether. no comments, flirts, not even any laughter
when the other paladins try to ask him about it, he just shakes his head and shrugs them off
days go by, and lance still hasn’t said a word, and the other paladins are starting to worry a lot more
one of them finally confronts lance, with the altean equivalent of pen and paper, and gently persuade him to write down what’s wrong
he writes “i didn’t want to annoy you anymore, so i had my vocal chords removed on the last planet”