The final drafts of the inaugural images from the ESA’s Herschel Space Telescope have arrived, and if you thought that the early photographs of the M51 Whirlpool Galaxy were impressive – and they were, really – then you ain’t seen nothing yet. I mean just wow. Well, see for yourself.

For reference, the red parts are where new stars are being born. Neat, huh?

If just the preliminary images from a few days back were enough to turn NASA officials green with envy, then these must be setting off the sort of nerd conniption fits that send pocket protectors flying all over Cape Canaveral.

But NASA and the ESA could at least join in mourning together today, as both said a final farewell to an old friend this morning when the radio contact with the Ulysses probe was cut. Though it’s 18 year mission comes to an end today, the venerable solar research probe will continue orbiting the sun in a cold and solitary ellipse until the end of time. I don’t know if anyone out there is capable of shedding a tear for a space probe, but if you can, now would be the time.

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