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Week's Best Space Pictures: A Magnificently Bulging Galaxy
By Michael Greshko,
National Geographic News, 6 May 2016.

This week, the Cassini spacecraft spots Enceladus just above Saturn’s rings, an International Space Station astronaut flies over Brazil, and one of Mars’s deepest chasms hints at the planet's once watery past.

1. A Star-Studded Bar

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Discovered in 1784 by astronomer William Herschel, the galaxy NGC 4394 is about 55 million light-years from Earth. It’s the archetypal barred spiral galaxy, with graceful arms and a central bar of gas and stars.

2. Surf and Turf

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An astronaut aboard the International Space Station spotted the shoreline of Lagoa Mangueira, one of Brazil’s famous coastal lagoons. The sandy spits are formed by shallow water circulated by sea breezes.

3. A Midwinter Day's Dream

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This Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter photo shows several craters in Mars’s southern mid-latitudes. It is currently mid-winter there, so accumulating frost (neon blues) can be seen on south-facing slopes and in shadowed areas.

4. Saturn's Dewdrop

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In this Cassini image, Saturn’s moon Enceladus appears to sit atop the planet's rings like a small drop of dew upon a leaf. The metaphor is apt: Enceladus has a global subsurface ocean of liquid water.

5. Salt in the Wound

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Mars’ Melas Chasma is the widest segment of Valles Marineris, the largest canyon in the solar system. Hydrated sulfate salts have been detected in this region, suggesting that water was present in the past.

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

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