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Stardust spacecraft when it buzzed past Comet Wild 2.
Scientists are still digesting the volumes of data gathered by NASA's Stardust spacecraft when it buzzed past Comet Wild 2 earlier this year. They were expecting to see a dirty snowball, but found a much stranger place, with deep craters, steep cliffs, and dozens of blasting jets. Some features look ancient, perhaps created billions of years ago when life was just forming on Earth. Stardust collected particles from the Comet when it flew past, and is now returning to Earth so scientists can study them in closer detail.
The European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft snapped this self portrait recently as part of a series of tests of the CIVA camera system on the Philae lander. In the picture you can see the back of Rosetta's solar panels and some of the spacecraft's body at the lower right. The CIVA imaging camera system consists of six identical micro cameras which will take panoramic photos of Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko when it arrives in 10 years. This picture was taken when Rosetta was 35 million km (21.7 million miles) from Earth.
The newest image from NASA's Cassini spacecraft was taken on May 18, and shows beautiful swirling clouds in Saturn's southern hemisphere. This image was taken with the spacecraft's narrow angle camera at a distance of 23.4 million km (14.5 million miles) using a special filter that's sensitive to the absorption and scattering of sunlight from methane gas in the Infrared spectrum.
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