Week in Space: Martian Blasts, Saturn's Moons, and Hawaiian Skies
A bevy of astronomical beauties displays the grandeur of the planets (and moons) in the week's best space pictures.
Campfire flames light up the Hawaiian night, seen in this March 12 Your Shot photo taken on the road to Mauna Kea. (See "Road Trip: The Big Island of Hawaii.")
At base camp some 6,000 feet (1,829 meters) above sea level, skies gleam bright and clear, a hint of the dazzling view afforded the observatories crowning the mountain.
Like windblown smoke from a chimney, streamers of ice trail from the shores of Lake Michigan's Washington Island, adorning this view of the frozen waters released on March 10 from the International Space Station.
The thickness of the ice "stringers" depends on the length of the shoreline from which they protrude. Ice has covered more than 90 percent of Lake Michigan this winter, the most for March since 1978.
Rhea, the second largest of Saturn's moons, shines brightly in this image released this week from the international Cassini mission spacecraft.
Only 949 miles (1,527 kilometers) wide, Rhea always displays only one face toward Saturn, locked in the same tidal embrace with its planet that our moon has with Earth.
The mixture of smooth and cratered plains on the icy moon suggests that an asteroid impact may have changed part of the moon's surface long ago.
In Nepal, melting glaciers fill a fast-growing lake in the Himalaya, seen in this Friday view from the European Space Agency's Kompsat-2 satellite. (See: "Adventure in the Himalaya.")
Shrouded in snow, glaciers such as Imja (in the upper part of this view) gleam from the ridges and valleys of the high mountains. Their runoff feeds rivers such as the Ganges and Indus.
Golden dust scattered about the surface of Mars appears in this March 12 picture taken from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. (See: "Mission to Mars.")
The crater appears to be young, perhaps only a few thousand years old.
The ejecta from the crater reveals the difference between the dark surface of the red planet and its lighter-colored depths. That contrast may be evidence that water weathered the underground minerals long ago.
Northern lights shimmered for hours in the Norwegian skies, seen in this March 13 Your Shot picture.
Solar activity has spurred a spate of auroras in recent months, filling skies in polar regions with pulsing light. (See: "Northern Lights Setting Skies Alight.")