Images: Lunar crash course; interplanetary visitors

Images: Lunar crash course; interplanetary visitors

Summary: NASA is planning to crash a water-seeking probe into the moon while ESA visits Venus. Plus, news from Mars.

TOPICS: Nasa / Space

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  • Spirit's last ride?

    Despite a broken wheel, the Mars Rover Spirit is crawling across the Martian landscape to find haven for the winter. Spirit is currently navigating through rough terrain to reach a hillside that gives enough sunlight to keep it running over the dark Martian winter. Currently, Spirit can operate about an hour a day over flat ground.

    Spirit is still working. This photo shows where the right wheels of Spirit were grinding in the soil, prompting NASA to backtrack the rover and attempt another route.

  • Saturn spots

    Meanwhile on Saturn: This image from the Cassini probe released Tuesday shows the horizontal cloud bands that rotate at different speeds across the giant planet. The vortices--counterparts to the east-west flowing streams--are prominent and can last for months or years.

  • Mars in hi-res color

    This is the first color image of Mars from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, taken during a turn round the planet on March 24.

    The color is not as the human eye would see it, but was generated by combining data from green and near-infrared color bandpass detectors on the camera with black-and-white images (from red-bandpass detectors). The image also has been processed to enhance subtle color variations.

    That the southern half of the scene is brighter and bluer than the northern half is perhaps due to early-morning fog in the atmosphere, NASA said. Large-scale streaks in the northern half are the result of wind on surface materials. The blankets of material ejected from the many small, fresh craters are generally brighter and redder than the surrounding surface, but a few are darker and less red. In the bottom half of the image is a redder color in the rough areas, where wind and sublimation of water or carbon dioxide ice have partially eroded patches of smooth-textured deposits. Click to see more photos from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Topic: Nasa / Space

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