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Space Photos of the Week: Packaging for Mars

This odd zigzagging terrain is part of the Mars south pole. These odd features are a result of the March…

This odd zigzagging terrain is part of the Mars south pole. These odd features are a result of the March season changes. Since the water ice formed during the winter dries, the ice dries under the evaporator and leaves these irregular shapes. By observing seasonal changes on Mars with the HiRise camera aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, researchers can control the larger climate picture of our dusty planetary neighbor.

After traveling to the southern poles, we are now in the northern poles in the spring. This synaptic pattern is caused by slow defrosting of carbon dioxide on the surface. When the planet warms in spring, the ice is evaporating and leaves behind this elaborate polygon pattern. The bluish spots here are carbon dioxide nuts. This photo was taken by the HiRise Camera 2008, when NASA tried to determine where to place its Phoenix landlord.

This special photo is a first for all space exploration. This is Mars seen by one of MarCO CubeSats that traveled beside InSight on its way to Mars. The two CubeSats and InSight launched from the ground on an Atlas V rocket. When they were far enough away, the rocket released the trio, and they traveled together to Mars. This wide-angle view shows that Mars is huge in the background, while the high gain antenna is seen to the right of the frame. When MarCO-B took this photo, it had just completed its primary mission: The couple miniatellites relayed real-time data back to earth under “7 minutes terror”, which is when InSight plunged through the Mars atmosphere and down to the surface.

This colorful cloud is called the Rosetta nebula, and it is what is called an emission bullet. When gas and dust collide, new stars are created, and the power of these star births drives the surrounding gas and dust away. During that process, it begins to glow as a result of radiation from the formation of the stars. This image was captured by the European Southern Observatory’s very large telescope in Chile.

Meet Apep-a binary star system that has never been depicted. The image, taken by the European Southern Observatory’s very large telescope, shows a few stars that intersect. Their interaction causes huge starwinds that drive gas and dust around the dance and leave behind this swirling dust cloud.

Abel 1

033 runs boldly, where no galaxy clusters have passed. It is formed as USS Enterprise from Star Trek but unfortunately it is not a secret spacecraft spacecraft but an odd residue remains of a collision of two galaxy clusters. Galaxy clusters are the largest known objects in the universe – they can contain thousands of galaxies each bound by gravity. However, the gas around them can have as much as six times the mass of all galaxies in combination, and that gas is difficult to see in visible light only. By combining data from the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, seen here in purple and radio observations seen in blue, the full shape created by the interaction becomes visible.

Welcome to Mars, InSight! This Mars image, captured by the European Space Agency’s Mars Express Orbiter, shows a region called Elysium Planitia, where InSight just landed. (There is variety between the black dot at the bottom right and the raised candy tube at 3 o’clock.) The farmer will work there for two years while studying the interior of the planet, searching for marsquakes and studying the heat from below the surface. The area where InSight has established the store is away from hills and volcanic remains, and that’s good because InSight needed a very flat and “dull” place to live on Mars. And now Insight has a friendly (kind of) neighbor – it’s only a few hundred miles north of where the roots of curiosity flow around.

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