Welcome to the 141st edition of Carnival of Space. Hubble Top Star award-winner, StarryCritters is host this week to the blogosphere’s most interesting astronomy posts of the week. With Mardi Gras beginning February 16th, Galileo’s 446th birthday on February 15th, and the 20th anniversary of Voyager’s Family Portrait on the 13th, this is a great week to visit the Carnival. Strap yourselves in, we’re going for a ride.

The (maybe not) last night launch of Space Shuttle Endeavor seemed to capture the combined enthusiasm of the world including Robert Pearlman at CollectSPACE. As I was following Nancy Atkinson’s tweets, I could tell the event left her speechless. After collecting her thoughts, she had time to fill us in on her experience on her personal blog. And since we have more than 140 words, here it is included for free.

The night launch of a space shuttle is a wonderful sight, says Alan Boyle of CosmicLog. Sadly, it’s a sight we may never see again. The views gets even better when you’re in space. Tour space inside and out.

On the heels of Endeavor’s meetup to deliver Tranquility Node 3 to the ISS, Solar Dynamic Observatory soared into orbit to study the Sun. Nancy Atkinson, from our host UniverseToday, covered the SDO launch for us. Two launches are better than one. Noisy Astronomer, Nicole Gugliucci continues our coverage of SDO with more insight into the science goals. Thanks for keeping us up-to-date at the SDOisGO Tweetup, Nicole.

Also getting ready for launch at the Kennedy Space Center is SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket. Brian Wang at the Next Big Future tells us the private launch firm is targeting a March 8, 2010 launch date.

Next Big Future also reports on MIT work to power and move Rubik’s Cube-sized satellites, known as CubeSats. This new electric propulsion technology aims to give the tiny, versatile sats more mobility; maybe even to deep space.

Wayne Hall at Kentucky Space provides this video update from Jeffrey Manber on the work to make affordable, repeatable micro-gravity research available on the International Space Station. Not to be confused with CubeSats, the first of three planned NanoRacks, along with the first two “Cubelabs,” will fly on Shuttle STS-131 in March to the station.

Eva-Jane Lark of Out of the Cradle interviewed Hoyt Davidson of Near Earth LLC for this installment of “EVA Interviews.”

Much discussion continues about the redirection NASA announced earlier in February. Dr. Bruce Cordell, of 21stCenturyWaves explains that NASAs “New Paradigm” supports “Maslow Window Forecasts”. Aron Sora of Habitation Intention presents a counter-argument to his position in support of a lunar base.

If you weren’t wowed by the night-time launch of the shuttle, perhaps you’ll enjoy a one-of-a-kind twin auroral light show spotted on Saturn by the Hubble Space Telescope. Scientists used the less well-known ultraviolet capabilities of Hubble to give us this shot. Both Emily Lakdawalla, of the Planetary Society blog and Alan Boyle, writing in CosmicLog marvel the rare double aurora.

At the other end of the electromagnetic spectrum and from the earthbound ESO VISTA survey telescope, explore the new, near-infrared image of the Orion Nebula at StarryCritters and Bente Lilja Bye’s Planetbye blog. There is a feature at StarryCritters that allows you to view the image full-screen. Click the far-right button on the toolbar to enter.

Were All In The Gutter blog, presents us with astronomical Valentines by pointing us to this video from the folks at the Sixty Symbols project. This project is a treasure trove of information. Enjoy the show.

Weird Warp takes us on a whirlwind, 10-minute ride through solar system creation. Faster if you’re a speed reader.

Continuing the sightseeing portion of this ride, tour guide Jason Perry of the Gish Bar Times, points out several features on Jupiter’s moon Io named after people in places from Dante’s “Inferno.”

While Astroblogger offers hints and tips for observing the opposition of Vesta.

Mike Simonsen at Simostronomy reminds us not to get too comfortable with what we thought we knew about galaxies. Things are changing with the Hubble Sequence as astronomers peer further back in time to see younger galaxies.

Just by changing the way we look at things allows us to see more than before. Isn’t science cool?

Ryan Anderson at Martian Chronicles explains how lasers work and talks about some common misconceptions. I still want sound effects with my laser. Pew, pew.

Steve Nerlich shares wiggly, wobbly, spacey-timey stuff at Cheap Astronomy in this final installment of his series of podcasts on light.

Speaking of spacey-timiness, StarStryder, Pamela Gay talks of annoyance and acceptance of gravity.

Adam Crowl at Crowlspace ponders a deep future view of warming white dwarfs with dark matter and the possible SETI implications.

In the strange, science fiction tie-in category of the week, Ian O’Neill, of Discovery News and Paul A. Gilster, of Centauri Dreams, explore the recent paper that calls for humanity to seed the galaxy with microorganisms ensuring life will survive even the death of our Sun. Maybe the paper’s author was inspired by “The Mind’s Eye.”

Lastly, Stuart at Cumbrian Sky writes an impassioned tribute to the Mars rover, Spirit. If only we could all click our fingers or fall asleep and find ourselves on the Barsoomian surface to help dig Spirit out. After reading this, I can’t help wondering what will happen if we don’t settle Mars one day or do a better job of documenting our space exploration. Will some future explorer stumble upon the cold rover and wonder at our intentions?

Thanks for visiting the Carnival this week. Many thanks to Fraser Cain at Universe Today and the many bloggers who make reading and hosting the Carnival such a blast. Not ready to head out yet? Stick around and continue your sightseeing at StarryCritters.