Normally, the Earth is surrounded by two doughnut-shaped radiation belts known as the Van Allen belts. Researchers have known about them since the 1950s. With the launch of the Van Allen probes in August 2012, astronomers hoped to get a better picture of these two areas of radiation.
Located in Oceanus Procellarum, on the western edge of the near side of Earth's moon, the impact crater shows smoother regions on its floor and areas littered with debris. Light-colored boulders litter the crater like powdered sugar on a cupcake.
Schiaparelli E is named for the 19th-century Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli, whose observations of "canals" on Mars sparked the popular idea that intelligent life on the red planet dug channels across the surface to irrigate their world. (Related photos: "Looking Back at Visions of Life on Mars.")
Image courtesy Arizona State University/NASA
A brush fire in southeastern Australia sends a plume of smoke wafting south over the Bass Strait (map) in an image released February 28.
A double lunar rainbow, or moonbow, arcs over the Pacific Ocean in this photograph taken February 26 from Kaanapali, Maui (map).
Rainbows form when water droplets refract sunlight into its component colors. The same principle applies to lunar rainbows, but instead of using direct sunlight, moonbows form when reflected sunlight from the moon is refracted by atmospheric moisture. (Watch a video of moonbows in Yosemite National Park.)
Since the reflected light from the moon is fainter than direct sunlight, colors are harder to see with the naked eye in moonbows. Long exposure photographs, such as the 20-second exposure pictured, enable us to see the colors of the rainbow. (See related photos of a quadruple rainbow.)