Science Images of the Month – December, 2014

Posted December 31st, 2014 at 5:50 pm (UTC-5)
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NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) captured this image of the sun as it pumped out a powerful X1.8-class solar flare on 12/19/14.  X-class flares are the biggest and most intense of these solar explosions that blast large amounts of energy, light and high speed particles into space. (NASA)

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory captured this image of the sun pumping out a powerful X1.8-class solar flare on 12/19/14. X-class flares are the biggest and most intense of these solar explosions that blast large amounts of energy, light and high speed particles into space. (Reuters/NASA)

How much money are you supposed to tip your robot waiter?  A crew of 30 robots welcomes customers, cooks meals and delivers dishes at a restaurant located in Hefei, in the Chinese province of Anhui on 12/26/14. (Reuters)

How much money are you supposed to tip your robot waiter? A crew of 30 robots welcomes customers, cooks meals and delivers dishes at a restaurant located in Hefei, in the Chinese province of Anhui on 12/26/14. (Reuters)

NASA sent its new Orion capsule, atop a Delta IV rocket, into space on its first unmanned orbital test flight on 12/5/14.  NASA hopes to use the new space capsule in the future for manned flights to an asteroid or perhaps even Mars. (AP/NASA)

NASA sent its new Orion capsule, atop a Delta IV rocket, into space on its first unmanned orbital test flight on 12/5/14. NASA hopes to use the new space capsule for future manned flights to an asteroid or perhaps even Mars. (AP/NASA)

And of course what goes up must come down.  After successfully completing its first unmanned orbital test flight, NASA’s Orion Crew Module is shown here as it descends to the Pacific Ocean under its three main parachutes on 12/5/14. (AP/US Navy)

And of course what goes up must come down. After successfully completing its first unmanned orbital test flight, NASA’s Orion Crew Module is shown here as it descends to the Pacific Ocean under its three main parachutes on 12/5/14. (AP/US Navy)

A student at the Marine Academy of Technology and Environmental Science, located in Manahawkin, NJ holds an adult diamondback terrapin turtle on 12/16/14. The students, who study and take care of the turtles at the school recently, mounted a successful campaign to get New Jersey state lawmakers to introduce a bill that would make it illegal to catch or take the turtles from the wild. (AP)

A student at the Marine Academy of Technology and Environmental Science, located in Manahawkin, NJ holds an adult diamondback terrapin turtle on 12/16/14. The students, who study and take care of the turtles at the school, recently mounted a successful campaign to get New Jersey state lawmakers to introduce a bill that would make it illegal to catch or take the turtles from the wild. (AP)

This amazing photo of the sun setting (left) over the Gulf of Mexico and the U.S. Gulf Coast (right) from space was posted to social media by the crew of the International Space Station on 12/14/14.  (Reuters/NASA)

This amazing photo of the sun setting (left) over the Gulf of Mexico and the U.S. Gulf Coast (right) from space was posted to social media by the crew of the International Space Station on 12/14/14. (Reuters/NASA)

A visitor gets an early look at the "Musee des Confluences", a brand new science and anthropology museum in Lyon, France on 12/18/14.  The museum, designed by Austrian architect Wolf Dieter Prix officially opened its doors to the public on 12/20/14. (AP)

A visitor gets an early look at the “Musee des Confluences”, a brand new science and anthropology museum in Lyon, France on 12/18/14. The museum, designed by Austrian architect Wolf Dieter Prix, officially opened its doors to the public on 12/20/14. (AP)

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) successfully launched its heaviest rocket ever on 12/18/14.  Called the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV Mark-III), the huge rocket also carried an experimental crew module, CARE (Crew Module Atmospheric Re-entry Experiment), into space.  (AP/Press Trust of India)

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) successfully launched its heaviest rocket ever on 12/18/14. Called the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV Mark-III), the huge rocket also carried an experimental crew module, CARE (Crew Module Atmospheric Re-entry Experiment), into space. (AP/Press Trust of India)

“Pepper”, a friendly human-like robot is shown here at its new job selling new Nestle coffee machines at a Tokyo electric shop on 12/1/14.  Nestle says it would like to have robots like “Pepper” working at 1,000 stores by the end of next year.  (Reuters)

“Pepper”, a friendly human-like robot is shown here at its new job selling new Nestle coffee machines at a Tokyo electric shop on 12/1/14. Nestle says it would like to have robots like “Pepper” working at 1,000 stores by the end of next year. (Reuters)

NASA and the European Space Agency released this new Hubble Space Telescope image of the galaxy IC 335 on 12/24/14.  The IC 335 galaxy is located in the Fornax Galaxy Cluster, which is about 60 million light-years away. (ESA/Hubble/NASA)

NASA and the European Space Agency released this new Hubble Space Telescope image of the galaxy IC 335 on 12/24/14. The IC 335 galaxy is located in the Fornax Galaxy Cluster, which is about 60 million light-years away. (ESA/Hubble/NASA)

A scientist holds the fossil skull of an Aquilops americanus which is believed to be the oldest known horned dinosaur species from North America. Scientists announced the discovery of this ancient fossil at press conference that was held on 12/10/14. (Reuters/Andrew A. Farke)

A scientist holds the fossil skull of an Aquilops americanus which is believed to be the oldest known horned dinosaur species from North America. Scientists announced the discovery of this ancient fossil at press conference on 12/10/14. (Reuters/Andrew A. Farke)

Ho ho ho!  Diver Mark Lane, who was dressed as Scuba Santa Claus, delights children on 12/17/14 as he makes his first dive of the holiday season in the 802,507 liter Philippine Coral Reef tank at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. (AP)

Ho ho ho!  Diver Mark Lane, who was dressed as Scuba Santa Claus, delights children on 12/17/14 as he makes his first dive of the holiday season in the 802,507 liter Philippine Coral Reef tank at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. (AP)

Rick Pantaleo
Rick Pantaleo maintains the Science World blog and writes stories for VOA’s web and radio on a variety of science, technology and health topics. He also occasionally appears on various VOA programs to talk about the latest scientific news. Rick joined VOA in 1992 after a 20 year career in commercial broadcasting.

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