In this column, staff writer Andrea Alfano rounds up the most important and fascinating space news of the past week in bite-sized summaries to keep you up to date on what's happening way up above us.

Our own solar system was the source of much excitement this week in space news, with a beautiful image of the "dark side" of our moon, the third anniversary of Curiosity's arrival on Mars, and observations of intriguing new features on Saturn's icy moon Tethys.

Elsewhere in the universe, the glowing remnants of two different dying stars were revealed in images from The Hubble Space Telescope and the Very Large Telescope.

EPIC proved it deserves that name once again with this stunning shot of the moon and Earth.

One million miles away, the EPIC camera and telescope aboard NASA's DSCOVR satellite has been capturing some absolutely incredible images. From Earth, we can only ever see one side of the moon because the two are tidally locked, meaning that the moon's rotation around its axis is the same as its orbit around the Earth. This latest shot shows the Moon's 'dark side' against the brilliant backdrop of our beautiful blue planet.

"It is surprising how much brighter Earth is than the moon," Adam Szabo, DSCOVR project scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, said in a statement. "Our planet is a truly brilliant object in dark space compared to the lunar surface."

Space exploration enthusiasts celebrated the third anniversary of Curiosity's arrival on Mars.


August 5 marked the third anniversary - in Earth years - of the arrival of NASA's Curiosity rover on Mars. As SarcasticRover, Curiosity's hilariously snarky Twitter personality, pointed out, NASA compiled a list of the rover's biggest scientific discoveries in celebration. Topping that list is Curiosity's discoveries that suggest Mars might be able to support life.

Always looking ahead, NASA is already working on launching another Mars rover in 2020.

The Hubble Space Telescope and the Very Large Telescope brought us two striking and very different images of planetary nebulas.

Both of the images above show planetary nebulas, the glowing remnants of dying stars. Only relatively low-mass stars – such as our own sun – form planetary nebulas. After a dying star swells into a red giant, the outer layers of gas get ejected outward to form the glowing orbs shown above. Stars larger than eight times the mass of our sun will die in even bigger explosions known as supernovas.

The nebula on the left is known as NGC 6565, and was observed by the Hubble Space Telescope, and the nebula on the right is known as the Southern Owl Nebula, which was observed by the ESO's Very Large Telescope.

NASA's Cassini spacecraft spotted strange red arcs on Saturn's icy moon Tethys.

Tethys, one of Saturn's moons, sports strange red arcs that puzzle planetary scientists. NASA's Cassini spacecraft captured this image of the surprising markings. Since the arcs cut across impact craters on the moon's surface, scientists reason that they must be geologically young, but determining their exact age and how they got there will require further investigation.

"After 11 years in orbit, Cassini continues to make surprising discoveries," Linda Spilker, Cassini project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in a statement. "We are planning an even closer look at one of the Tethys red arcs in November to see if we can tease out the source and composition of these unusual markings."

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