SPACE PHOTOS THIS WEEK: Kepler Launch, Mars Moon, More

SPACE PHOTOS THIS WEEK: Kepler Launch, Mars Moon, More
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March 4, 2009--Dark patches show where frost is melting on Malea Patera, part of a chain of volcanic craters surrounding the Hellas Basin in Mars's southern hemisphere. (Read more about Martian volcanoes.)

The picture, taken by the Mars-orbiting HiRISE camera, suggests that discrete areas around the volcano are somehow heating up faster with exposure to springtime sunlight. Researchers say the spots could be dunes of dark sand--exposed as ice disappears--that are absorbing more heat than the surrounding terrain. But more images are needed to see how things change as the seasons progress.

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—Image courtesy NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
 
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