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Photo: NASA, ESA, STScI, M. Mutchler (STScI), A. Simon (GSFC) and the OPAL Team, J. DePasquale (STScI)

The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has captured new photos of Saturn and Mars, taken shortly before each was at its closest point to Earth, referred to as being in opposition. This occurs when the Sun, Earth and an outer planet are lined up, with Earth directly in between the two. The outer planet is fully lit up by the Sun as seen from Earth, according to the ESA.

The details: Opposition allows astronomers to notice details on the planet's surface more clearly. The image of Saturn shows its ring system tilted towards Earth, which put its rings and the gaps between them on full display — the rings stretch out eight times the radius of the planet. Saturn was in opposition to Earth on June 27, and Mars will be on July 27, the ESA said.

Hubble's image of Mars shows a "gigantic sandstorm enshrouding the entire planet," as well as the planet's white polar ice caps. These images allow astronomers to examine "how cloud patterns and large-scale structures on other planets in our Solar System change over time," the ESA said.

Go deeper

2 hours ago - Health

U.S. surpasses 25 million COVID cases

A mass COVID-19 vaccination site at Dodger Stadium on Jan. 22 in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

The U.S has confirmed more than 25 million coronavirus cases, per Johns Hopkins data updated on Sunday.

The big picture: President Biden has said he expects the country's death toll to exceed 500,000 people by next month, as the rate of deaths due to the virus continues to escalate.

GOP implosion: Trump threats, payback

Spotted last week on a work van in Evansville, Ind. Photo: Sam Owens/The Evansville Courier & Press via Reuters

The GOP is getting torn apart by a spreading revolt against party leaders for failing to stand up for former President Trump and punish his critics.

Why it matters: Republican leaders suffered a nightmarish two months in Washington. Outside the nation’s capital, it's even worse.

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
6 hours ago - Economy & Business

The limits of Biden's plan to cancel student debt

Data: New York Fed Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax; Chart: Axios Visuals

There’s a growing consensus among Americans who want President Biden to cancel student debt — but addressing the ballooning debt burden is much more complicated than it seems.

Why it matters: Student debt is stopping millions of Americans from buying homes, buying cars and starting families. And the crisis is rapidly getting worse.