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Space Photos of the Week: Pack for Mars



This strange zigzag terrain is part of the south pole of Mars. These strange features are the result of seasonal changes in Mars. When the water ice that forms in winter thaws, dry ice evaporates underneath leaving behind these irregular shapes. By observing the seasonal changes on Mars with the HiRise camera aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, scientists can put together the larger environmental image for our dusty planetary neighbor.

After a trip to the South Pole, we are now at the North Pole in spring. This synaptic pattern is caused by the slow thawing of carbon dioxide ice on the surface. When the planet warms up in the spring, the ice evaporates, leaving behind this elaborate polygon pattern. The bluish spots here are carbon dioxide snow. This photo was taken in 2008 by the HiRise camera as NASA tried to determine where to place its Phoenix Lander.

This special photo is a first for the exploration of outer space. This is Mars, as seen by one of the MarCO CubeSats who were traveling with InSight on their way to Mars. The two CubeSats and InSight started with an Atlas V rocket from Earth. Once they were far enough away, the rocket released the trio and they traveled together to Mars. This wide-angle view of Mars in the background is huge, while the high-gain antenna can be seen to the right of the frame. When MarCO-B took this photo, it had just completed its main mission: The mini-satellite pair transmitted real-time data to Earth during the "7 minutes of horror," where InSight crashed through the Martian atmosphere.

This colorful cloud is called the Rosetta Nebula, which is called the Emission Nebula. When gas and dust collide, new stars emerge, and the power of these star births pushes away the surrounding gas and dust. During this process, it starts to glow due to the radiation of star formation. This image was taken by the Very Large Telescope of the European Southern Observatory in Chile.

Meet Apep ̵

1; a binary star system never seen before. The photograph taken by the Very Large Telescope of the European Southern Observatory shows a pair of stars orbiting around each other. Their interaction causes massive stellar winds that push gas and dust around their dance, leaving behind this swirling dust cloud.

Abel 1033 boldly goes where no galaxy cluster was before. It's shaped like Enterprise Enterprise from Star Trek but unfortunately it's not a secret gas spaceship, but a strange remnant left behind by a collision between two galaxy clusters. Galaxy clusters are the largest known objects in the universe – they can contain thousands of galaxies and are all connected by gravity. However, the gas around them can be six times the mass of all galaxies, and this gas is hard to see only in visible light. By combining data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory, shown here in purple, with radio observations in blue, the full form generated by the interaction becomes visible.

Welcome to Mars, InSight! This Mars image taken by the Mars Express Orbiter of the European Space Agency shows a region called Elysium Planitia, where InSight has just landed. (It's sort of between the black dot on the lower right and the raised candy cane at 3 o'clock.) The lander will work there for two years as he examines the planet's interior, searches for Marsquakes, and examines the surface's heat from below. The area where InSight is located is far from hills and volcanic remains. That's a good thing, because InSight needed a very flat and "boring" place to live on Mars. And now Insight has a friendly neighbor – it's only a few hundred miles north of where the Curiosity Rover roams.


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