NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured this intriguing view of “corduroy” sand dunes rippling across the permanent polar cap of Mars. The dunes “march across a fabric of patterned ground,” according to a NASA caption that explains “at this time of the Martian year the dunes are free of the seasonal dry ie that forms a temporary cover every winter.” Launched in 2005, the MRO braked into orbit around the red planet in 2006 to study the history and distribution of water. Its High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment, or HiRISE, which took the image seen here, is one of the most powerful cameras ever launched aboard a planetary spacecraft.
As dawn creeps across Western Europe on the morning of Thursday, 10 September, a close conjunction of the two brightest objects in the nighttime sky is taking place low in the east an hour before sunrise. So, set your alarm for 5:30am in the UK to see a beautiful juxtaposition of a 26-day-old waning crescent Moon and dazzling planet Venus in the twilight.
The Curiosity Mars rover used a camera on the end of its robot arm to take a selfie on the slopes of Mount Sharp before moving on to begin exploring nearby clay-rich soils. The rover is slowly working its way up the lower slopes of the mountain, looking for changes that might indicate the transition from warmer, wetter eras to the dry, frigid environment seen today.