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Located the Mars Polar Lander spacecraft.


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Located the Mars Polar Lander spacecraft.
Located the Mars Polar Lander spacecraft.

Mars Polar Lander Found?

Scientists analyzing images taken by the Mars Global Surveyor think they might have located the Mars Polar Lander spacecraft, which crashed onto Mars in December 1999. The team developed techniques for spotting spacecraft by analyzing the landing sites of the Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity. They think they've found MPL's parachute, exhaust blast, and the actual spacecraft. Additional, higher resolution images will be taken by MGS later this year to confirm the discovery.

Plankton Bloom in the Bay of Biscay.

The European Space Agency's Envisat satellite snapped this picture of a marine phytoplankton bloom forming off the coast of Spain, in the Bay of Biscay. Blooms like this occur frequently in the bay this time of year, since the water is cold, but very nutrient rich. As the water warms to a certain level, the plankton's growth explodes. It's important to monitor these blooms, as phytoplankton forms the base of the marine food chain.

Solar Minimum Doesn't Mean a Calm Sun.

Our star goes through an 11-year cycle of solar activity. At the recent height of the cycle, the Sun blasted off some of the most powerful flares and coronal mass ejections ever seen. And during the minimum, due in 2006, it's supposed to be calm, right? Well, not exactly. Even during the lowest point of solar activity, the Sun still blasts off a few of the most powerful X-class flares. Unprotected astronauts caught in the radiation would probably get pretty sick.

More Sunlight is Hitting the Earth.

The amount of sunlight reaching the Earth's surface has been on the rise for the past decade on average, potentially accelerating the effects of global warming. scientists had been measuring a decrease in sunlight from the 1960s to the 1990s, because of rising pollution was actually blocking sunlight. With better pollution controls in place, the planet's surface has brightened by about 4% in the last 10 years.

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