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Mars Caves?
Image courtesy NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Looking like space slug hidey-holes, huge pits gouge a bright, dusty plain near the Martianvolcano Ascraeus Mons in a picture taken between October 1 and November 1 by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO).

Released in December, the image is among a series of new views snapped by MRO's HiRISE camera that show intriguing geological features on Mars. Each image covers a strip of Martian ground 3.7 miles (6 kilometers) wide and can reveal a detail about as small as a desk—and so far no sign of Star Wars monsters.

MRO's sister orbiter, Mars Odyssey, first noticed the two deep pits—which are about 590 feet (180 meters) and 1,017 feet (310 meters), respectively—a year earlier using its infrared camera, THEMIS. (Related: "Seven Great Mars Pictures From Record-Breaking Probe.")

"When compared to the surrounding surface, the dark interiors of the holes gave off heat at night but were cool by day," said Alfred McEwen, principal investigator on the HiRISE camera.

"So we then decided to target these with MRO because this thermal information may be evidence for these being caves—but the jury is still out on that."

(See "Mars Has Cave Networks, New Photos Suggest.")

The MRO has been studying Mars since 2006, beaming back more data than all other past and current missions to the planet combined.

Can reanimated corpses ever really be brought back to life?

In the case of the Intelsat Galaxy 15 satellite that had its "brains fried" by a solar flare nine months ago, it would appear that zombies really can be brought back from the dead.

Amazingly, the "zombiesat" is back online, communicating with mission control and there's real optimism it might be brought back to full service!

SLIDE SHOW: 5 Ways the Solar Wind Will Blow You Away

The April solar storm killed Galaxy 15's ability to communicate with Earth but left its payload fully operational, drifting uncontrolled 26,000 miles (42,000 kilometers) above Earth.

As if having a multi-million dollar communications satellite paralyzed in orbit wasn't enough, the satellite gained notoriety in May for threatening the airing of the final episode of Lost.

On May 23, the day of the series finale, Galaxy 15 drifted into the geosynchronous orbital slot of AMC-11, a satellite owned by SES World Skies that distributes cable television throughout the USA. Both sats process "C-band" signals, meaning they operate on the same frequencies.

As Galaxy 15 simply receives signals from the ground, amplifies them and beams them back to customers on Earth, the concern was that its "bent-pipe" design would steal the signal from AMC-11, interrupting the viewing pleasure of potentially millions of cable customers.

Soothing Pond




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