Space Photos of the Week: The Moon Needs Sunscreen
This week we’ll start just 250,000 miles from home—at the moon. It is a lesser known fact that our moon has a magnetic field—in some places. It’s small, patchy, and irregular, but in many cases it's just enough to prevent the powerful solar wind from marring its pretty surface—think lunar sunscreen! New observations of the moon reveal features called lunar swirls: regions where the field is rather weak, and consequently lets the solar wind leave scars that are big enough to be seen from Earth.
Onward to Mars. Last week NASA’s InSight finished placing all of its scientific instruments onto the surface surrounding the lander. The last task was setting down the thermal instrument and drill called HP3. This tool can dig up to 16 feet below the ground, where it can measure the temperature of the planet as well as determine the makeup of the Martian crust. However, after deploying the “mole” the InSight team ran into a bit of a snag in the form of—you guessed it—rock. Scientists are not sure if they hit a rock or a thick layer of gravel, so for now operations have been halted until they can figure out next steps.
While InSight awaits its instructions, let's visit a very strange and ancient part of Mars called Mawrth Vallis , the location of really old mineral called jarosite. This mineral is formed under wet and acidic conditions, and the Opportunity rover found some in the region where it roamed too. Devoid of any obvious water sources, Mars seems pretty dry and dusty. But the planet was once covered with rivers and lakes. By locating and studying these minerals, scientists are better able to piece together our red neighbor's past.
A journey into the vastness of space starts with a single click. See WIRED's full collection of photos of the great beyond, here.
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