The northern lights dance over the Knik River near Palmer, Alaska. Activity on the surface of the sun creates this natural light show, but severe solar storms could devastate Earth's power and water utilities, and knock out communications. Bob Martinson/AP hide caption

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The development of NASA’s Ares I-X rocket would be halted if President Obama's budget for the space agency is approved. NASA/Kim Shiflett hide caption

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Taken in 1990 by NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft, the "pale blue dot" photo shows what our planet looks like from 4 billion miles away. Earth is the tiny speck of light indicated by the arrow and enlarged in the upper left-hand corner. The pale streak over Earth is an artifact of sunlight scattering in the camera's optics. NASA/JPL hide caption

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The 12-inch gold-plated records contain greetings in 59 languages, samples of music from different cultures and eras, and natural and human-made sounds from Earth. One record is currently 16.89 billion km from Earth, the other is over 13 billion km away. NASA Center: Jet Propulsion Laboratory hide caption

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Endeavour lights up the night sky at the Kennedy Space Center on Monday ... perhaps the last time a shuttle will launch in the pre-dawn hours. John Raoux/AP hide caption

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An artist's rendition of the International Space Station with the addition of the new viewing module, called the cupola. Courtesy of NASA hide caption

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Coronal loops, seen here, are fountains of multimillion-degree gas in the atmosphere of the sun. They are often precursors to solar flares, which emit strong bursts of electromagnetic energy. NASA/AP hide caption

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