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Week's Best Space Pictures: 3 Hurricanes, Saturn's Equinox
By Jane J. Lee,
National Geographic News, 4 September 2015.

Feed your need for "heavenly" views of the universe every Friday with our picks of the most awe-inspiring space pictures. This week, a stellar nursery gets a close-up, a tactical satellite takes flight, and scientists colour-code a Martian plain.

1. Can You Hear Me?

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An Atlas V rocket launches a new tactical satellite into space from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Monday. The satellite should improve communications for U.S. military in the field.

2. Young'un

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Hubble snaps a shot of globular cluster NGC 1783, one of the biggest such clusters in the Large Magellanic Cloud. NGC 1783 is less than 1.5 billion years old, a mere babe considering that typical globular clusters are several billion years old.

3. Triple Threat?

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Hurricanes Kilo, Ignacio, and Jimena swirl across this composite image taken on Tuesday. Two days prior, all three were category 4 hurricanes, the first time in recorded history three such storms appeared simultaneously in the Pacific.

4. Cold Blooms

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Plant-like organisms called phytoplankton bloom in the nutrient-rich waters of the Barents Sea north of Norway. The blooms are so massive that their milky green hues can be seen from space.

5. Patchy Clouds

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The Prawn nebula shines like never before in this image taken by the 2.2-meter telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile. Its decidedly patchwork appearance is due to clusters of hot, new-born stars that pockmark the nebula's clouds.

6. Equinox

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Cassini catches a view of Saturn 1.5 days after the equinox: the period when the sun shines directly on the planet's equator. Since it takes about 30 years for Saturn to orbit the sun, an equinox happens about every 15 years.

7. Pastel Mars

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Instruments on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter provided geological information on part of the Nili Fossae plain in the planet's northern hemisphere. Carbonate-rich rocks are green, olivine is brown, and basalt is purple.

Photo gallery by Nicole Werbeck.

[Source: National Geographic News. Edited. Some links added.]

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