The infinite beauty of space is visible to us because of NASA.
Ever since the space race began on Oct. 4, 1957, the U.S. has worked tirelessly to stay at the forefront of space exploration. Starting with Eisenhower and the creation of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in 1958, we've been exploring space and sharing it with the world for almost 60 years.
Recent government decisions to limit communication and budget cuts from both parties have led to the notion that one day soon, we could be without NASA. Which would leave us without a future of pioneering, groundbreaking, and stunning images like the ones below.
1. A view from above.
This image is from the Apollo 11 mission.
2. A "young" cluster of stars.
They're only 2 million years old.
3. A galaxy far, far away ... 55 million light-years away.
Technically this galaxy is called NGC 4013. It's similar in shape to the Milky Way (this is a side view), but the difference is that this Hubble-produced image is a whopping 55 million light-years away. Or 16.8 million parsecs, if you're interested.
4. The death of a star.
Some of us may be feeling crushed lately. Allow this star to empathize with you. In space, dead stars can still pulse, and in the deep center, you'll see the "heart" of this exploded star.
Ready for space facts? This is called a neutron star. NASA tells us "it has about the same mass as the sun but is squeezed into an ultra-dense sphere that is only a few miles across and 100 billion times stronger than steel."
5. Even artist concept images from NASA are mind-blowing.
In 2011, the WISE telescope had to be retired because it was overheating too much. But before it was shut off, it made the discovery of millions of potential black holes. This image is an interpretation of a quasar. I wish it were a scene from "Doctor Who."
6. Jupiter rising.
Plato summed it up perfectly when he wrote that "Astronomy compels the soul to look upward and leads us from this world to another."
7. Ever wonder what a gamma ray burst is?
8. From a distance, the world looks...
If you think the zoom on your mobile is impressive, this picture of Saturn was taken by the spacecraft Cassini in 2002 from 177 MILLION MILES AWAY.
9. A giant leap indeed.
Edwin 'Buzz' Aldrin, a U.S. flag, and the moon. July 20, 1969.
10. Venus transit across the sun.
Venus is a massive planet. But the sun is oh my gosh big. Here is what it looks like while going across the sun as photographed by the SDO satellite in June 2012.
11. Paging Matt Damon.
NASA's Curiosity Mars rover took 33 telephoto images and stitched them together to show us that California's drought is nothing compared to this.
12. Best pumpkin ever? or just the sun laughing at us?
13. It's the final countdown!
The legendary space shuttle Atlantis lifted off from Kennedy Space Center on July 8, 2011, for the last time in NASA's shuttle program.
14. This is what an oil change looks like in space.
15. Pure human joy.
This photo shows NASA and JPL celebrating the success of the solar-powered Juno spacecraft successfully joining Jupiter's orbit. This took five years and on July 4, 2016, it started to successfully transmit data back to Earth.
That is what pure human joy looks like.
NASA has brought the limitless beauty of space to our fingertips for almost 60 years. The images here represent just a microscopic sample. The ingenuity, drive, and determination shown is immeasurable. The unbelievable scientific and technological advancements are a true testament to what it means to be at the forefront of space exploration. Here's hoping we can celebrate NASA's 60th next year.