The coolest new space pictures: September 2023

A lot of precious cargo came home from space this month. Two vehicles carrying crewmembers from the International Space Station and one asteroid sample return capsule braved fiery trips through Earth’s atmosphere. The month began with the return of a SpaceX Crew Dragon on Sept. 4, carrying a multinational crew back to Earth:

Crew-6 splashdown
Crew-6 splashdown Crew-6 mission members smile for a picture shortly after splashing down in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida on Sept. 4, 2023. The four crewmembers spent nearly six months in space as part of Expedition 69 aboard the International Space Station. From left: Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev, NASA astronaut Warren "Woody" Hoburg, NASA astronaut Stephen Bowen, and United Arab Emirates astronaut Sultan Alneyadi.Image: NASA/Joel Kowsky

Three weeks later on Sept. 24, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx sample return capsule landed under parachute in the Utah desert. The sample from asteroid Bennu could help us learn more about the origins of life on Earth. It is now being studied in a clean room at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas:

OSIRIS-REx TAGSAM with black dust
OSIRIS-REx TAGSAM with black dust The OSIRIS-REx Touch and Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism, TAGSAM, is seen in a sealed glovebox at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. TAGSAM touched the surface of asteroid Bennu in 2020 to collect a sample. The black dust seen on surrounding hardware will undergo a quick-look analysis to determine if it is in fact material from asteroid Bennu.Image: NASA JSC

Finally, a Soyuz capsule carried two Russian cosmonauts and one NASA astronaut to a landing in Kazakhstan on Sept. 27. The trio wrapped up 371 days in space, making astronaut Frank Rubio the new record holder for the longest U.S. spaceflight:

Frank Rubio returns to Earth
Frank Rubio returns to Earth NASA astronaut Frank Rubio is carried to a medical tent shortly after he and Roscosmos cosmonauts Dmitri Petelin and Sergey Prokopyev landed in their Soyuz MS-23 spacecraft near the town of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan on Sept. 27, 2023. The trio returned after 371 days in space as members of Expeditions 68-69 aboard the International Space Station. Rubio's mission is the longest single spaceflight by a U.S. astronaut in history.Image: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Here are some other space images that caught our attention this month:

Psyche connected to payload attach fitting
Psyche connected to payload attach fitting Technicians mount NASA's Psyche spacecraft to its payload attach fitting inside the clean room at the Astrotech Space Operations facility in Titusville, Florida on Sept. 20, 2023. The fitting will connect Psyche to the top of its Falcon Heavy rocket.Image: NASA/Kim Shiflett
HH 211 captured by JWST
HH 211 captured by JWST A newborn star spews jets of gas from its poles in this image captured by JWST in August 2022 and released on Sept. 14, 2023. Bright regions around newborn stars are called Herbig-Haro objects, and this specific Herbig-Haro object is called HH 211. At roughly 1,000 light-years away from Earth, HH 211 is one of the youngest and nearest objects of its type. Our own Sun might have looked similarly in its early days.Image: ESA/Webb, NASA, CSA, T. Ray (Dublin)
Curiosity Views Gediz Vallis Ridge
Curiosity Views Gediz Vallis Ridge NASA's Curiosity rover captured the images used to create this panorama while parked below Gediz Vallis Ridge on Mars. Curiosity captured the images on Aug. 19, 2023 and NASA released the panorama on Sept. 18, 2023. The ridge was one of the last features to form on Mount Sharp, the mountain Curiosity has been climbing since 2014. The ridge preserves a record of one of the last wet periods seen on this part of the planet. After one of the most difficult climbs the mission has ever faced, Curiosity spent 11 days at the ridge. It then left to explore Gediz Vallis Channel, through which water flowed about 3 billion years ago, carrying rocks and debris that piled up to form the ridge.Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS
Perseverance views some interesting rocks
Perseverance views some interesting rocks NASA's Perseverance rover captured this image of some interesting Martian rocks on Sept. 17, 2023. The image was selected by public vote as an "Image of the Week" for the mission. It has been edited to bring out more detail.Image: NASA / JPL-Caltech / ASU / Edited by The Planetary Society
Jupiter swirls and stripes
Jupiter swirls and stripes Jupiter's swirls and stripes are on display in this image captured by NASA's Juno spacecraft during the mission's 54th flyby of Jupiter on Sept. 7, 2023.Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Kevin M. Gill