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NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC'S BEST SPACE PICTURES THIS WEEK XCII


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Week’s Best Space Pictures: Frozen Fractals Crisscross Mars
By Michael Greshko,
National Geographic News, 1 January 2016.

Feed your need for heavenly views of the universe with our pick of the most awe-inspiring space pictures. This week, a celestial collision births a new galaxy, frosty cracks branch across a Martian crater, and Saturn’s moon Dione shows off its wispy surface.

1. Sun and Stone

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The rocky slopes of northwest Greenland’s Daugaard-Jensen Land glow gold from the morning sun. The photo was taken from a Falcon 20 plane by Operation IceBridge, a NASA mission mapping changes to Arctic ice with aircraft.

2. Frozen Fractals

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The cracks in this Martian crater were formed by sediment repeatedly freezing and thawing. They’re highlighted by persistent frost in this picture from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The crater itself is in Vastitas Borealis, Mars’ vast northern lowlands.

3. Sun, Sand, and Cities

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Dubai, Sharjah, and Ajman - three of the United Arab Emirates’ federated monarchies - and the Persian Gulf can all be seen in this photo from the International Space Station. The empty areas of sand in the upper left are the artificial Deira Islands.

4. Hostile Merger

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The Hubble Space Telescope captured this shot of NGC 6052, a galaxy 250 million light-years away in the constellation of Hercules. The unusually shaped galaxy is in the midst of being born from the chaotic fragments of two galaxies that collided.

5. Rise and Shine

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A composite image from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter shows the Earth rising over Compton crater on the moon’s far side. The photo is reminiscent of the famous “Earthrise” image taken by Apollo 8 astronauts in 1968.

6. Wisps and Rings

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NASA’s Cassini probe took this shot of Saturn’s rings and the wispy, cracked terrain of the moon Dione. The wisps are bright ice canyon walls, likely formed by cracking during subsidence.

7. Time Makes You Boulder

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NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spots a boulder-covered landslide along a canyon wall between Aurorae and Hydraotes Chaos. This region of Mars contains stretches of enigmatic, blocky hills unlike anything seen on Earth.

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

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