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A radar view of Venus taken by the Magellan spacecraft, with some gaps filled in by the Pioneer Venus orbiter. Credit: NASA/JPL

A radar view of Venus taken by the Magellan spacecraft, with some gaps filled in by the Pioneer Venus orbiter. Credit: NASA/JPL

Talk about using old data for a new purpose! Researchers re-examining information from the completed NASA Magellan mission found signs of what could be “heavy metal” frost on the hell-like surface. What the researchers saw in radio-wave reflectance is the highlands appear brighter, with dark spots in the tallest locations.

What substance exactly is causing the patches on the surface is unknown, and it is extremely hard to make predictions given the difficulty of simulating Venus’ 900-degree Fahrenheit (500-degree Celsius) surface temperature, which is also 90 times Earth’s air pressure at sea level.

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The Partially eclipsed Sun rising over the Vehicle Assembly Building on the Florida Space Coast on November 3rd, 2013.

The partially eclipsed Sun rising over the Vehicle Assembly Building on the Florida Space Coast on November 3rd, 2013. Photo by author.

Get those solar viewers out… the final eclipse of 2014 occurs this Thursday on October 23rd, and most of North America has a front row seat. Though this solar eclipse will be an exclusively partial one as the Moon takes a ‘bite’ out the disk of the Sun, such an event is always fascinating to witness. And for viewers across the central U.S. and Canada, it will also provide the chance to photograph the setting crescent Sun along with foreground objects. [click to continue…]

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Frost deposits in Louth Crater appears to remain through the year, as found in Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter HiRISE photos of the region. Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Frost deposits in Louth Crater appears to remain through the year, as found in Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter HiRISE photos of the region. Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Mars was once thought to be a fairly unchanging planet, similar to the Moon. But now we know it is a planet that was shaped by water and other forces in the past — and that these forces still come into play today.

Above is a picture of permafrost deposits just discovered in Louth Crater. This find comes from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’s High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) and you can see some of its latest water- and dust- shaped environments imaged below.

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Carnival of Space #376

Carnival of Space. Image by Jason Major.

Carnival of Space. Image by Jason Major.

This week’s Carnival of Space is hosted by Allen Versfeld at his Urban Astronomer blog.

Click here to read Carnival of Space #376.
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High resolution image pairs made with HiRISE camera on MRO during Comet Siding Spring's closest approach to Mars on October 19. Shown at top are images of the nucleus region and inner coma. Those at bottom were exposed to show the bigger coma beginning of a tail. Credit: NASA/JPL/Univ. of Arizona

High resolution image pairs made with HiRISE camera on MRO during Comet Siding Spring’s closest approach to Mars on October 19. Shown at top are images of the nucleus region and inner coma. Those at bottom were exposed to show the bigger coma and the beginning of a tail. Credit: NASA/JPL/Univ. of Arizona

Not to be outdone by the feisty Opportunity Rover, the HiRISE camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) turned in its homework this evening with a fine image of comet C/2013 Siding Spring taken during closest approach on October 19.  [click to continue…]

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