Jul 26, 2018

NASA reveals strikingly clear Hubble photos of Saturn and Mars

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.

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Japan to close schools through late March to control coronavirus outbreak

A couple takes photos in front of the Olympic rings in Tokyo. Photo: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced Thursday that the government will ask elementary, middle and high schools around the country to close until late March as an attempt to contain its novel coronavirus outbreak, AP reports.

Why it matters: The government's decision — impacting 12.8 million students across 34,847 schools — comes as concerns mount about the spread of the virus in Japan, which has 189 confirmed cases and hundreds more abroad the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship.

Go deeper: The latest coronavirus updates

What the coronavirus means for Trump's presidency

Photo Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images

A poor response to the coronavirus could be politically devastating for President Trump, and so far his administration has given the strong impression that it’s still scrambling as the risk of a pandemic mounts.

Why it matters: There’s only so much any president can do to stop a virus from spreading, and for now the coronavirus is still very much under control within the U.S. But if the disease get worse in the months ahead, and if the administration seems to be caught off guard, that spells trouble for public confidence in Trump.

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Coronavirus updates: New global case numbers surpass China's

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The novel coronavirus is now affecting every continent but Antarctica and the WHO said Wednesday the number of new cases reported outside China has exceeded those inside the country for the first time.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed more than 2,800 people and infected over 82,000 others in some 50 countries and territories. As Denmark and Estonia reported their first cases Thursday, Scott Morrison, prime minister of Australia — which has 23 confirmed infections — told a news conference, "The risk of a global pandemic is very much upon us."

Go deeperArrowUpdated 4 hours ago - Health