Dark streaks line the inside of Newton crater in a digitally enhanced picture from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter released August 4. The spacecraft's original image was reprojected to show a 3-D view of the slope as it would appear from a helicopter inside the crater.
Repeated observations of the Martian surface show similar streaks at several southern hemisphere locations. The streaks darken during warm seasons and fade in cold seasons, hinting that seasonal processes—possibly flows of liquid water—are active on modern Mars.
An Atlas V rocket shines in the morning sky at Cape Canaveral, Florida, shortly before it launched on August 5, carrying NASA's Juno mission to Jupiter.
The Juno craft successfully lifted off at 11:34 a.m. ET, starting a five-year journey to the gas-giant planet. When Juno arrives, it will study Jupiter's atmosphere, magnetic field, and deep interior. (Get the full story of the Juno mission.)
Photograph courtesy NASA
X Marks the Spot
On August 9 the sun shot out an X-class solar flare, the most intense type of flare, aimed directly at Earth. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured this image of the flare in extreme ultraviolet light.
NASA warned that the August 9 flare could cause scattered radio blackouts, but that an associated coronal mass ejection—a dense cloud of solar particles—would miss the planet, minimizing risks to satellites and the power grid. (See "As Sun Storms Ramp Up, Electric Grid Braces for Impact.")
Image courtesy NASA/SDO/AIA
A thin layer of white snow covers the ground near Cerro Paranal, home to the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope, in a long-exposure picture released August 8. A satellite (left) and a meteor make dual streaks in the night sky above.
Cerro Paranal is a 8,530-foot-high (2,600-meter-high) mountain in the Atacama Desert. The high, dry location offers prime viewing of the bright stars of the Milky Way as well as more distant galaxies, making it a popular spot for astronomers. (Also see "The Dry Edge of Life: Studying 'Martians' in Chile.")
Photograph courtesy Y. Beletsky, ESO
Breaking the Ice
Japan's massive March 11 tsunami was strong enough to break icebergs off an Antarctic ice shelf, pictured above before and after the waves arrived. ESA's Envisat satellite spotted the icebergs in images released August 9. The largest one measured about 4 by 6 miles (6.5 by 9.5 kilometers) in surface area and about 260 feet (80 meters) in thickness.
A magnitude 9.0 earthquake, which struck off the coast of Japan, triggered the giant waves. The tsunami then traveled through the Pacific Ocean for more than 8,000 miles (13,000 kilometers) south to the Sulzberger ice shelf.
The west rim of Endeavour crater sweeps south in a composite view made from pictures taken by NASA's Mars rover Opportunity on August 6. The "natural color" shot is the rover team's best estimate of what the Martian scene would look like through human eyes.
The hardy rover has been moving in spurts toward the 14-mile-wide (22-kilometer-wide) crater for the past three years. Mission managers confirmed that the rover reached the crater's edge on August 9. (Find out more about Opportunity's trek to Endeavour crater.)