Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

Even the most distant robotic explorers on Mars are never totally alone. NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter caught sight of the space agency's InSight lander on the Martian surface in September.

Why it matters: The remarkably clear photo taken by the MRO shows off the lander's circular solar panels on the sides of the spacecraft.

  • "The dark halo surrounding the spacecraft resulted from retrorocket thrusters scouring the surface during landing, while dust devils created the dark streaks that run diagonally across the surface," NASA said in an image description.

The intrigue: InSight's "mole" — designed to burrow below the Martian surface to learn more about the heat being emitted by the planet's interior — backed about halfway out of its hole, according to NASA, and mission managers are now working to figure out why and how to get the mole digging once more.

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The crushing budget blow awaiting state and local government workers

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

State and local government jobs are being gutted, even as the labor market shows signs of a slight recovery.

Why it matters: The coronavirus pandemic blew a hole in state and local government budgets. A slew of states cut spending and jobs — with more planned layoffs announced this week as states try to balance budgets.

As boycott grows, Facebook juggles rights groups and advertisers

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

As an advertiser boycott of Facebook over its tolerance of hate speech continues to snowball, the company has begun making small, incremental changes to mollify activists while it tries to buy time to evolve its content policies.

Driving the news: Sources tell Axios that the product and policy changes sought by the #StopHateForProfit campaign were long under discussion both inside Facebook and with some external groups. Meanwhile, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has reportedly told employees that the boycotting advertisers will be back before long.

Replacing the nursing home

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Nursing homes have been the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, prompting more urgent discussions about alternative housing situations for elderly Americans.

Why it matters: Deaths in nursing homes and residential care facilities account for 45% of COVID-19 related deaths, per the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity — but there are few other viable housing options for seniors.