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Mars Express spacecraft aurora in the Martian atmosphere.


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Martian atmosphere.
Aurora in the Martian atmosphere.

Capturing the Fastest Events in the Universe.

A new high-speed camera has been mounted to the European Southern Observatory's Very Large telescope in Chile. This ultra fast camera is called ULTRACAM, and it's capable of recording some of the most rapid astronomical events. It's capable of taking 500 pictures a second, so it will be used to watch any object that can change quite rapidly, like black holes, gamma ray bursts, white dwarfs or cataclysmic variables.

First Aurora Seen on Mars.

The European Space Agency's Mars Express spacecraft has discovered an aurora in the Martian atmosphere. In addition to Earth, auroras have been discovered on Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, but not Mars... until now. Mars has no intrinsic planetary magnetic field, so the aurora formed above a pocket of rock that was still magnetic. This aurora was only 30 km (19 miles) long, and very faint. An Astronaut on Mars would probably see the aurora as very faint and blue, if at all.

Possible Methane Volcano Discovered on Titan.

Scientists have found what looks like a Volcano on the surface of Titan, which could contribute to the methane in the moon's atmosphere. NASA's Cassini spacecraft imaged the area in Infrared during a flyby last year, the region seems to show an "ice volcano" dome. The Volcano looks to be about 30 km (19 miles) across, and appears to be built up from overlapping flows. At its centre is a feature that clearly looks like a Volcano caldera. Future Cassini flybys will help scientists understand if the Moon has enough tidal energy to generate volcanoes like this.

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