Breccia contains rocky chunks that had been broken up by a major geologic event—such as an impact or a landslide—and then cemented together by finer-grained material. When the chunks are big enough—in this case, larger than 30 feet (9.1 meters) across—the orbiting HiRISE camera can make out the brilliant features.
Image courtesy NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
January 22, 2010–The largest solar flare detected in more than two years creates a bright flash on the sun in a January 17 picture by the one of the twin STEREO spacecraft. The outburst was accompanied by a coronal mass ejection, seen as the large cloud of particles surrounding the bright flash.
Though solar activity has been slumbering overall, STEREO scientists say, the region where the flare was observed has seen plenty of activity.
Image courtesy SOHO/STEREO/NASA
Solar Eclipse From Space
January 26, 2010—A unique look at the January 15 annular eclipse was one of the first observations of the sun made by the European Space Agency's new Proba-2 satellite.
At less than a cubic meter (35.3 cubic feet), the tiny satellite will be a testing ground for a suite of new technologies that might eventually be adopted into full-size spacecraft, including a new star-tracker and an asteroid explorer.
Image courtesy ESA
X-rays From Distant Galaxies
January 20, 2010—Colorful galaxies seem to jostle for position in the sky like Fruity Pebbles in a bowl of milk as seen by the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton observatory. Pink outlines in the recently captured picture show x-ray contours around galaxy clusters, revealing how dark matter is affecting the structure of distant objects.
The x-rays allowed astronomers to figure out which galaxy lies at the center of a cluster. The team could then look at how the cluster's light is bent by gravity to determine its mass, including the mass of its dark matter. This is the first time such a technique has been used on galaxies quite so far, far away, according to the XMM-Newton team.
Image courtesy ESA
Tsauchab River, Namibia
January 25, 2010—In arid Namibia, the lower Tsauchab River rarely flows into the series of silty mud holes—known locally as Sossus Vlei ("small lake")—that marks the river's end.
But on December 24, 2009, an astronaut aboard the International Space Station snapped this shot of the moving river carrying sediment to the coastal lowlands—a process which, over tens of millions of years, likely created the red dunes of the Namib Sand Sea surrounding the river.