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NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC'S BEST SPACE PICTURES THIS WEEK LXXXI


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Week's Best Space Pictures: Star Makes Waves and Apollo Shines
By Michael Greshko,
National Geographic News, 9 October 2015.

Feed your need for heavenly views of the universe. This week, The Martian movie gets a reality check, Pluto’s ghostly atmosphere glows, and unexplained waves ripple from a nearby star.

1. Glare and Blare

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With the sun as their backdrop, NASA scientists used special imaging techniques to reveal an F-18 jet’s sonic boom. The splotches on the sun, shown in purple, are sunspots - cooler, more magnetically active patches of its surface.

2. Raise a Glass

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Apollo 12 astronaut Alan Bean holds up a sample container as crewmate Charles Conrad, Jr. snaps a photo. Most of the Apollo astronauts’ photos were taken with custom cameras like the one mounted to Bean’s chest.

3. Cosmic Neighbourhood

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The star systems surrounding AU Microscopii, a red dwarf some 32 light-years from our solar system and about half the sun’s mass. Scientists recently found surprise "ripples" moving through a debris disk orbiting the star.

4. Purple Haze

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Pluto’s high-altitude haze glows a ghostly blue-purple, as captured by NASA’s New Horizons. The shroud is likely composed of soot-like particles called tholins, which form when solar radiation bombards nitrogen and methane.

5. Do You Want to Build a Comet?

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The icy southern regions of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The duck-shaped comet’s two distinct lobes were once individual comets that slowly collided into each other.

6. Defrosting

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First-year sea ice melts in the Bellingshausen Sea, off of Antarctica’s west coast, on November 5, 2014. Research has shown that globally, the amount of sea ice keeps decreasing, even as Antarctic sea ice hits record sea coverage.

7. Bring Him Home - From Here

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The sun hangs low over Mars’ Acidalia Planitia, the landing site of the mission in the book and film “The Martian.” In real life, settling here would be tricky. The region is littered with boulders and steep slopes.

8. Apollo’s Final Earthrise

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A crescent Earth rises over Ritz Crater, as captured by Apollo 17 astronaut Ronald Evans. This, and thousands of other pictures, are in the new Project Apollo Archive.

Photo editing by Sherry Brukbacher.

[Source: National Geographic News. Edited. Some links added.]

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