Space Photos of the Week: Check Out the Stretch Marks on Mars
This week’s space photos take us on a mini tour of the solar system. First up is that bright nuclear fusion reactor in the sky, our sun. This week NASA’s Solar Dynamic Observatory captured a colossal coronal hole, a magnetic opening in the sun that spits out solar wind laced with highly charged particles. When this wind interacts with the Earth’s magnetic field, the skies in the northern and southern poles are lit up with colorful auroras.
Next up is the famous red planet that’s always trying to kill Matt Damon. Mars, our rust-covered neighbor, is littered with ancient volcanoes and their remnants carved into the surface. This week the European Space Agency’s Mars Express Orbiter captured a photo of the region known as Sirenum Fossae in Mars’ southern hemisphere. These raised-looking fractures are actually stretch marks left over during a very geologically active time on the planet. These long features stretch for thousands of miles and are scars from the crust either being pulled apart or filled with flowing magma from the nearby volcano called Arsia Mons. As far as Martian volcanoes go, Arsia Mons is thought to have been active only 200 million years ago.
To round out the week, get dizzy and lost in a twirling storm on Jupiter. The Juno spacecraft keeps chugging along, and it spit out this image just a few weeks ago. The unprecedented detail here is thanks in part to image processing that carefully sorts through the raw photo data to extract details—like bumping up the clarity and contrast on an Instagram photo. Here, cloud-tops are visible, with the darker blues flowing deeper into the planet, while the white sits closer to the surface. Look close enough and you might just fall in!
Still want to explore the cosmos? Check out the rest of the collection here.