Prior to launch, the team laid out the parachute and hang lines in front of SPIDER, seen in the distance. The long-duration balloon that would carry SPIDER into the sky is attached to the end of the parachute shown here in the foreground.
The sun sets behind Space Launch Complex 2, Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, where NASA's Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission satellite is being prepared for liftoff. Launch is scheduled for Jan. 29.
At Space Launch Complex 2 on Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, NASA's Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission satellite is lifted up the side of a mobile service tower for mating to its Delta II rocket.
NASA's Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite is transported across Vandenberg Air Force Base in California to Space Launch Complex 2, where it will be mated to a Delta II rocket for launch, targeted for Jan. 29.
In the Astrotech payload processing facility on Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, technicians secure a transportation canister around NASA's Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) spacecraft for its move to the launch pad.
NASA's Soil Moisture Active Passive spacecraft is lowered onto the Delta II payload attach structure in the Astrotech payload processing facility at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, in preparation for launch, to take place no sooner than Jan. 29.
This image from NASA's Terra spacecraft shows Mt. Kailash, a peak in the Kailas Range in Tibet. It lies near the source of some of the longest Asian rivers: the Brahmaputra, the Sutlej and the Karnali.
This series of images reconstructs the geology of the region around Mars' Mount Sharp, where NASA's Curiosity Mars rover landed and is now driving. The images were taken on Earth and have been altered for the illustration.
This image from NASA's Terra spacecraft shows Lake Mackay, the largest of hundreds of ephemeral lakes scattered throughout Western Australia and the Northern Territory, and is the second largest lake in Australia.
NASA's ISS-RapidScat ocean wind scatterometer viewed Hurricane Ana as it approached Hawaii. From Oct. 13 to Oct. 19, 2014, RapidScat observed Ana seven times. This frame is from a movie containing multiple days of observation.
NASA's Terra spacecraft shows Mount Cameroon, an active volcano in Cameroon near the Gulf of Guinea. It is one of Africa's largest volcanoes, rising over 4,000 meters, with more than 100 small cinder cones.
NASA's New RapidScat Breezes Into Operation Aboard Space Station
Launched Sept. 21, 2014, to the International Space Station, NASA's newest Earth-observing mission, the International Space Station-RapidScat scatterometer to measure global ocean near-surface wind speeds and directions.
Validating Carbon Dioxide Measurements from NASA's OCO-2 Over Los Angeles
This image shows NASA's OCO-2 measurements of carbon dioxide levels over Pasadena and the northern Los Angeles basin on Sept. 5, 2014. Each colored dot represents a single measurement of the greenhouse gas made during an overflight of the area.
Iceland's Bardarbunga Volcano Imaged by NASA Spacecraft
Since the end of August 2014, Iceland's Bardarbunga volcano has been pouring out lava from a growing fissure. NASA's Terra spacecraft shows the flows have been accompanied by spectacular lava fountains.