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Top Astrobiology Images 2002
The Coma Cluster of Galaxies--one of the densest clusters know--contains thousands of galaxies, which in turn houses billions of stars. Like our own Milky Way galaxy, each bright spot represents countless examples of solar systems with the potential for planets and perhaps life.

Credit & Copyright: O. Lopez-Cruz (INAOEP) et al., AURA, NOAO, NSF
Viewed: 3272 times
The Blue Planet, our own Earth, in true color, showing the dominance of oceans along with the various organic biomes: green forests, tan deserts, white ice, and brown mountains. The composite combines data from the MODIS instrument on the Terra satellite in cloud-free daylight. Credit: Reto Stockli (IACETH), MODIS, GSFC, NASA
Viewed: 3230 times
The rocks inside a crater on the Asteroid Eros. Numerous small impacts on the asteroid show brown boulders visible interior to the less exposed (white) lip of the crater. Credit: NEAR Project, JHU APL, NASA
Viewed: 2547 times
The Eskimo Nebula in the constellation Gemini and visible from Hubble is a planetary nebula. The orange filaments represent what once was the outer layers of a Sun-like star 10,000 years ago. Credit: Andrew Fruchter (STScI) et al., WFPC2, HST, NASA
Viewed: 3174 times
The icy cracks of Jupiter's moon Europa continue to intrigue astrobiologists. The overall white sheen is likely frost and the moon's heat source is a combination of an underground ocean and tidal heating under the strong gravitational pull of Jupiter. Credit: Galileo Project, JPL, NASA
Viewed: 2753 times

The solar system's most volcanically active object, another of Jupiter's many moons, Io. The myriad color variations are constantly being resurfaced as evidenced by the relative absence of any cratering from impacts. Credit: Galileo Project, JPL, NASA
Viewed: 2882 times
2002 marked the 30th anniversary of the last human mission to the Moon (Apollo 17). The landing site in the Taurus-Littrow Valley, shows the shadow of the lunar module as snapped from the orbitting command module. Credit: Daniel D. Durda (SwRI), Space Imagery Center, LPL, Apollo 17
Viewed: 2789 times
The largest canyon in the solar system, Valles Marineris, sometimes considered the Grand Canyon on Mars. Although much larger than its terrestrial namesake, the canyon perhaps formed as a contractive crack as Mars cooled, but subsequently may have been shaped by geological or hydrological processes. Credit: Viking Project, USGS, NASA
Viewed: 3014 times
A river of flood water may have carved this canyon, Ma'adim Vallis, which is shown on Mars in false color based on the topography and elevation data. The valley networks represent a target for future Martian robotic missions. Credit: R. Irwin III (CEPS/NASM,UVa), T. Maxwell, A. Howard, R. Craddock, D. Leverington
Viewed: 3057 times
Methane blanketing Earth. A warming greenhouse gas, CH4, is produced in part by anaerobic bacteria in landfills as they compost. Methane has also been speculatively proposed as a terraforming atmosphere for the thin Martian atmosphere. Credit: GISS, NASA
Viewed: 2409 times

2002 brought the Cassini robotic spacecraft close enough to Saturn to resolve rings and its largest moon, Titan (lower left). Scheduled to arrive in July 2004, the spacecraft will study the complex Saturnian system, and attempt to land a probe on Titan's surface. Credit: Cassini Imaging Team, SWRI, JPL, ESA, NASA
Viewed: 2475 times
While the dynamic surface of the Sun makes all life in our solar system possible. The complex magnetic surface heats gases flowing around sunspots to over a million degrees Celsius. A few astrobiology targets of note (particularly the Jovian moons) may benefit from non-solar heating caused by tidal friction. Credit: TRACE Project, NASA
Viewed: 2447 times
The haze of an atmospheric layer on Saturn's moon, Titan. With an atmosphere thicker than Earth's, and composed of many biochemically interesting molecules (methane, hydrogen and carbon), Titan's rich chemistry will continue to interest astrobiologists as they look forward to landing a probe on its surface in 2004-5. Credit: Voyager Project, JPL, NASA
Viewed: 3517 times
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