Route 666 Probably a more realistic model of North American travel patterns by Eric Fischer, via Flickr

NASA's MSL Curiosity missionSource Images: NASA/JPL-CaltechWith its rover named Curiosity, Mars Science Laboratory mission is part of NASA's Mars Exploration Program, a long-term effort of robotic exploration of the red planet. Curiosity was designed to assess whether Mars ever had an environment able to support small life forms called microbes. In other words, its mission is to determine the planet's "habitability."

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Just in time

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This image is of planetary nebula NGC 7662 as seen with the Chandra X-Ray Observatory. A planetary nebula is a phase of stellar evolution that the sun should experience several billion years from now, when it expands to become a red giant and then sheds most of its outer layers, leaving behind a hot core that contracts to form a dense white dwarf star. This image was released Oct. 10, 2012.

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