Part of the ALMA array on the Chajnantor plateau of Chile points skyward to the Milky Way, our own galaxy. The center of our galaxy is visible as a yellowish bulge crossed by dark lanes, which are themselves huge clouds of interstellar dust. José Francisco Salgado/ESO hide caption

itoggle caption José Francisco Salgado/ESO

Your direct connection with the stars and all of the space in between them. iStockphoto.com hide caption

itoggle caption iStockphoto.com

Even if we find other life out there, in the depths of space, life here will still be a rare gem that must be worshipped and preserved at all costs. ESO hide caption

itoggle caption ESO

A bubble in space: Abell 39 marks the death of a star like the sun. Wind from the aging central star pushes into the surrounding interstellar gas, building up a dense shell that glows blue in this image. After 36 years of travel, the Voyager spacecraft is just now reaching the edge of the sun's own wind-blown bubble. WIYN/NOAO/NSF hide caption

itoggle caption WIYN/NOAO/NSF

Will we need to tread lightly, in deference to the locals, when finally do make it to Mars? Pat Rawlings/SAIC/NASA hide caption

itoggle caption Pat Rawlings/SAIC/NASA

On its way to Jupiter, the Galileo spacecraft looked back and captured this remarkable view of Earth and the moon. The image was taken from a distance of about 3.9 million miles. NASA hide caption

itoggle caption NASA

An artist's impression of a gamma-ray burst, a powerful jet of energy lasting from less than a second to several minutes. The most powerful events in the universe, they are thought to be mostly associated with the explosion of stars that collapse into black holes. A. Roquette/ESO hide caption

itoggle caption A. Roquette/ESO

The surface of Mercury is seen in a picture taken by NASA's Messenger spacecraft as it approached the planet during a fly-by on January 14, 2008. The image was taken about 11,000 miles from the planet and shows a region 300 miles across. NASA/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption NASA/Getty Images