The Space Pictures

Saturn’s Swirls. Photograph by NASA. Forces in Saturn’s upper atmosphere conspire to create swirls in the ringed planet’s cloud cover in an image taken by the Cassini spacecraft. Researchers study the movement of Saturn’s clouds in part to learn more about the way fluids work.

A Patchwork of Colors

Photograph by NASA. Canada’s Ellesmere Island presents a patchwork of blue, white, and brown in an image taken by NASA’s Terra satellite and released November 24. This north-central part of the island is covered in glaciers (blue and white).

Ellesmere has been continuously inhabited since 2000 B.C., although its current population numbers just under 200 people.

A Furnace’s Spiral

Photograph by ESA/Hubble & NASA. A barred spiral galaxy, named NGC 986, resides in the Fornax, or Furnace, constellation about 56 million light-years from Earth. Bar-shaped structures composed of stars cut across about two-thirds of spiral galaxies.

In this close-up view, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, young stars glow light blue. The galaxy’s central area is also awash in the illumination given off by a star-forming region.

Double Crescents

Photograph by NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute. Saturn (foreground) and its moon Titan appear as crescents in an image made by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. The picture, taken in violet light while facing the sun, allows scientists to study the makeup and physical state of the atmosphere on both Saturn and Titan. (Read about the “magic islands” that have been spotted on Titan.)