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Stephen Hawking discusses the "Breakthrough Starshot" space exploration initiative during a news conference Tuesday at One World Observatory in New York City. Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Breakthrough Prize Foundation hide caption

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Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Breakthrough Prize Foundation

An image from the European Southern Observatory shows the sky around the bright star Alpha Centauri — which appears so large because of the telescope optics and photographic emulsion — taken from photos in the Digitized Sky Survey 2. Alpha Centauri is the closest star system to Earth's solar system. ESO/Digitized Sky Survey 2/Davide De Martin hide caption

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ESO/Digitized Sky Survey 2/Davide De Martin

This computer-simulated image shows a supermassive black hole at the core of a galaxy. The cosmic monster's powerful gravity distorts space around it like the mirror in a fun house, smearing the light from nearby stars. NASA/ESA/D. Coe, J. Anderson and R. van der Marel (Space Telescope Science Institute) hide caption

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NASA/ESA/D. Coe, J. Anderson and R. van der Marel (Space Telescope Science Institute)

The women of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory helped launch the first American satellites, lunar missions and planetary explorations. Those "human computers," as they were called, are seen here in 1953. Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech hide caption

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Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech

Meet The 'Rocket Girls,' The Women Who Charted The Course To Space

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A Martian gravity map shows the Tharsis volcanoes and surrounding flexure. The white areas in the center are higher-gravity regions produced by the massive Tharsis volcanoes, and the surrounding blue areas are lower-gravity regions that may be cracks in the crust (lithosphere). MIT/UMBC-CRESST/GSFC via NASA hide caption

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MIT/UMBC-CRESST/GSFC via NASA