With crewed missions far in the future, this image is about as close as you can get to standing on Mars. NASA's Spirit Mars rover, dark since 2010, shot the newly-released panorama of Gusev Crater between April and October 2006.
Dark volcanic rocks dot the landscape. Two bright, smooth stones at center-right may be meteorites. The rover's visible excavations (left of center) revealed sulfur-rich salty minerals, suggesting a watery past here, according to NASA.
Islands in the Streams
In a Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter picture released Wednesday, telltale signs of ancient floods appear on streamlined "islands" in Athabasca Valles. Such islands are formed when catastrophic floods roar past and around obstacles such as rocky outcrops or crater impact debris.
Athabasca Valles is home to Mars's most recent known outflow channels, apparently shaped by water that surged through fissures in the surface millions of years ago. The margins of streamlined islands retain evidence of these floods, including terraces indicating different flow events and levels over the years.
Near Cairns, Australia, lucky sky-watcher Alex Cherney snapped this gem during Wednesday's total solar eclipse, according to the World at Night astrophotography website. The diamond-ring effect occurs when the moon is positioned just seconds away from totally blocking the sun. (See more pictures of the eclipse.)
When the moon moves between Earth and the sun, its shadow falls on our planet. Only people under its hundred-mile-wide (160-kilometers-wide) path could see the total eclipse this week—nearly all of them in Australia.
In a new composite of satellite images centered on New York's Long Island, yellow indicates urban areas that had power before Hurricane Sandy but lost it in the storm on October 29. As seen in the NASA picture, Manhattan, Long Island, and New Jersey were hardest hit by the superstorm, with left more than eight million people without electricity. (Hurricane Sandy Pictures: Floods, Fire, Snow in the Aftermath.)