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Satellite image shows rain puddles in the world's largest contiguous sand desert

Satellite image shows rain puddles in the world's largest contiguous sand desert

Science
June 15 (UPI) -- An image shared by NASA this week features a rare sight, rain puddles in Rub' al-Khali, the world's largest contiguous sand desert. At the end of May, the tropical cyclone Mekunu passed across the Arabian Peninsula. The port of Salalah, in Oman, received 11 inches of rain in just 24 hours -- two times the city's average annual precipitation total. The storm slowed and dissipated as it traveled inland across the desert, but still had plenty of moisture left to drop. On May 29, three days after the storm, Landsat 8's Operational Land Imager snapped a picture of the dunes of Rub' al-Khali as the satellite passed 435 miles overhead. The basins between the sand dunes can be seen filled with standing water. NASA shared the remarkable image online this week. The portion of the ...
NASA shares new Hubble image of blue-threaded galaxy

NASA shares new Hubble image of blue-threaded galaxy

Science
June 8 (UPI) -- A new Hubble image, shared this week by NASA, offers one of the best views yet of the nearby active galaxy IC4870. The galaxy is nicely framed by foreground stars and background stars. In the middle, positioned 28 million light-years from Hubble's lens, is IC 4870. The active galaxy is a Seyfert galaxy, which boast extremely bright nuclei, similar to quasars. They are some of the most luminous objects in the sky. Surrounding the bright center are streaks of electric blue gas, molecular clouds fueling the births of new stars. Hubble has imaged IC 4870 as part of previous surveys of nearby active galaxies -- galaxies that are actively forming new stars -- but has yet to produce such a clear and captivating photo of the galaxy. By imaging the active nuclei of nearby galaxies...
New image shows exposed bedrock in Hale Crater on Mars

New image shows exposed bedrock in Hale Crater on Mars

Science
May 31 (UPI) -- NASA has released a new image from its Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter that shows the red planet's Hale Crater -- a large impact crater with more than 62 miles of intriguing physical features. The crater contains active gullies, extensive icy ejecta flows and active recurring slope lineae, which are long marks that are dark or bright. NASA has released images of these recurring slope lineae within the crater before. In 2015, the agency suspected that the streaks, which appeared to flow downhill, were caused by contemporary flowing water. Planetary scientists had recently discovered hydrated salts -- trace amounts of water mixed with heavy doses of salts -- on the slopes of the crater, which the agency said at the time confirmed the theory. Similar features on Earth are caused...
New ESA image reveals massive stellar nursery

New ESA image reveals massive stellar nursery

Science
May 21 (UPI) -- A new image captured by the Herschel Space Observatory and shared by the European Space Agency on Monday showcases a massive stellar nursery located 12,000 light-years away. The G305 complex, which hosts a variety of star-forming hotspots, is located near the Coalsack Nebula. In the night sky, the region is situated within the Southern Cross, or Crux constellation. While G305 is home to many bright, newborn stars, the star-forming region is surrounded by dark clouds of molecular gas and dust. These swirling layers of star-forming materials block out the light of newborn stars, causing the region to appear as a splotch of dark black against the starry backdrop of the Milk Way. As revealed in the new Herschel image, the blue light of the complex's most intense star-forming ...
TESS snaps image of the stars as it swings by the moon en route to its final orbit

TESS snaps image of the stars as it swings by the moon en route to its final orbit

Science
May 18 (UPI) -- TESS, or the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, NASA's next-generation planet hunter, snapped a picture of the stars as it swung within 5,000 miles of the moon on Thursday, using the moon's gravity to fling itself toward its final orbit. With the feat, the spacecraft moved closer to the beginning of its scientific mission: photographing transiting exoplanets. The two-second test exposure, captured on Thursday, suggests the planet hunter's cameras are working properly. The plethora of stars in the image -- at least 2,000 of them -- showcases the broad perspective provided by TESS's four cameras. At the center of the image lies the southern constellation Centaurus. While TESS's scientific mission is largely the same as NASA's veteran planet hunter Kepler's -- to take im...