Comment »Posted on Sunday 20 September 2009 at 11:21 am by Jacob Aron
In Biology, Space & Astronomy, Weekly Roundup

Amazing astronomy

Check out this set of astronomy images from flickr user victorvonsalza. This one below is my favourite – be sure to click through for the larger version!

The images were taken in Portland, Oregon, and show a variety of dramatic starscapes.

See-through frog

This little guy comes from an amphibian family known as glass frogs, for reasons that should be fairly obvious. It’s both fascinating and slightly horrifying that you can see their innards from the outside…

Wet Mars, Dry Mars

Giant cracks across the surface of Mars hint that the dusty planet had a much wetter past. Although the cracks have been observed before, it’s only now that their true origin has been revealed.

Ramy El Maarry, a PhD student at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, created a computer model of the cracking process, which forms irregular shapes in the ground up to 250 metres in diameter. The marks have previously been attributed to the heating and cooling of the planet’s surface, but El Maarry’s model showed that this would only produces shapes as large as 65 metres.

He realised that the shapes resembled the “desiccation cracks” found on Earth when water evaporates to leave dry and dusty mud. Comparing the two side by side makes it a pretty convincing hypothesis:

Cracks on Earth (left) compared with Mars (right).
Cracks on Earth (left) compared with Mars (right).

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