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Pictures | Fri May 2, 2014 | 1:03pm EDT

The surface of Mars

<p>Nili Patera, one of the most active dune fields on the planet Mars is shown in this handout photo taken by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter March 1, 2014 and provide by NASA May 2, 2014. REUTERS/NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona/Handout via Reuters</p>

Nili Patera, one of the most active dune fields on the planet Mars is shown in this handout photo taken by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter March 1, 2014 and provide by NASA May 2, 2014. REUTERS/NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona/Handout via...more

Nili Patera, one of the most active dune fields on the planet Mars is shown in this handout photo taken by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter March 1, 2014 and provide by NASA May 2, 2014. REUTERS/NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona/Handout via Reuters

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<p>NASA's Hubble Space Telescope snapped this portrait of Mars within minutes of the planet's closest approach to Earth in nearly 60,000 years in this picture taken by NASA on August 27, 2003. In this picture, the red planet was 34,647,420 miles (55,757,930 km) from Earth.  REUTERS/NASA/Handout via Reuters</p>

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope snapped this portrait of Mars within minutes of the planet's closest approach to Earth in nearly 60,000 years in this picture taken by NASA on August 27, 2003. In this picture, the red planet was 34,647,420 miles...more

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope snapped this portrait of Mars within minutes of the planet's closest approach to Earth in nearly 60,000 years in this picture taken by NASA on August 27, 2003. In this picture, the red planet was 34,647,420 miles (55,757,930 km) from Earth. REUTERS/NASA/Handout via Reuters

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<p>Mars&rsquo; northern-most sand dunes are seen as they begin to emerge from their winter cover of seasonal carbon dioxide (dry) ice in this image acquired by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter January 16, 2014.   REUTERS/NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona/Handout via Reuters</p>

Mars’ northern-most sand dunes are seen as they begin to emerge from their winter cover of seasonal carbon dioxide (dry) ice in this image acquired by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter January 16, 2014. REUTERS/NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of...more

Mars’ northern-most sand dunes are seen as they begin to emerge from their winter cover of seasonal carbon dioxide (dry) ice in this image acquired by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter January 16, 2014. REUTERS/NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona/Handout via Reuters

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<p>An impact crater on Mars is seen in an image taken by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on November 19, 2013 and released February 5, 2014.   REUTERS/NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona/Handout</p>

An impact crater on Mars is seen in an image taken by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on November 19, 2013 and released February 5, 2014. REUTERS/NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona/Handout

An impact crater on Mars is seen in an image taken by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on November 19, 2013 and released February 5, 2014. REUTERS/NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona/Handout

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<p>A NASA combination handout photograph shows the surface of Mars in front of the Mars rover on December 26, 2013 and on January 8, 2014. NASA said the mysterious appearance of a doughnut-sized rock in the interim was likely a result of the rover taking a short drive in the area, probably moving the rock. REUTERS/NASA/Handout via Reuters</p>

A NASA combination handout photograph shows the surface of Mars in front of the Mars rover on December 26, 2013 and on January 8, 2014. NASA said the mysterious appearance of a doughnut-sized rock in the interim was likely a result of the rover...more

A NASA combination handout photograph shows the surface of Mars in front of the Mars rover on December 26, 2013 and on January 8, 2014. NASA said the mysterious appearance of a doughnut-sized rock in the interim was likely a result of the rover taking a short drive in the area, probably moving the rock. REUTERS/NASA/Handout via Reuters

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<p>A view of the Noctis Labyrinthus region of Mars, perched high on the Tharsis rise in the upper reaches of the Valles Marineris canyon system is seen in this NASA handout picture acquired on August 31, 2013 by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) and released by NASA on September 24, 2013.   REUTERS/NASA/JPL/University of Arizona/Handout via Reuters</p>

A view of the Noctis Labyrinthus region of Mars, perched high on the Tharsis rise in the upper reaches of the Valles Marineris canyon system is seen in this NASA handout picture acquired on August 31, 2013 by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO)...more

A view of the Noctis Labyrinthus region of Mars, perched high on the Tharsis rise in the upper reaches of the Valles Marineris canyon system is seen in this NASA handout picture acquired on August 31, 2013 by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) and released by NASA on September 24, 2013. REUTERS/NASA/JPL/University of Arizona/Handout via Reuters

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<p>This self-portrait of NASA's Mars Curiosity rover is shown in this NASA handout composite image released May 30, 2013. REUTERS/NASA/Handout via Reuters</p>

This self-portrait of NASA's Mars Curiosity rover is shown in this NASA handout composite image released May 30, 2013. REUTERS/NASA/Handout via Reuters

This self-portrait of NASA's Mars Curiosity rover is shown in this NASA handout composite image released May 30, 2013. REUTERS/NASA/Handout via Reuters

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<p>An image from the Mast Camera the Curiosity shows the surface of the planet with inclined layering known as cross-bedding in an outcrop called "Shaler" on a scale of a few tenths of a meter, or decimeters (1 decimeter is nearly 4 inches). Image released January 15, 2013. REUTERS/NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS</p>

An image from the Mast Camera the Curiosity shows the surface of the planet with inclined layering known as cross-bedding in an outcrop called "Shaler" on a scale of a few tenths of a meter, or decimeters (1 decimeter is nearly 4 inches). Image...more

An image from the Mast Camera the Curiosity shows the surface of the planet with inclined layering known as cross-bedding in an outcrop called "Shaler" on a scale of a few tenths of a meter, or decimeters (1 decimeter is nearly 4 inches). Image released January 15, 2013. REUTERS/NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

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<p>NASA's Mars rover Curiosity held its Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera about 10.5 inches (27 centimeters) away from the top of a rock called "Bathurst Inlet" for a set of eight images combined into this merged-focus view of the rock, taken during Curiosity's 54th Martian day on Mars, September 30, 2012. 

REUTERS/NASA</p>

NASA's Mars rover Curiosity held its Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera about 10.5 inches (27 centimeters) away from the top of a rock called "Bathurst Inlet" for a set of eight images combined into this merged-focus view of the rock, taken during...more

NASA's Mars rover Curiosity held its Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera about 10.5 inches (27 centimeters) away from the top of a rock called "Bathurst Inlet" for a set of eight images combined into this merged-focus view of the rock, taken during Curiosity's 54th Martian day on Mars, September 30, 2012. REUTERS/NASA

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<p>The base of Mars' Mount Sharp -  the rover's eventual science destination  -  is pictured in this August 27, 2012 photo taken by the Curiosity rover. The image is a portion of a larger image taken by Curiosity's 100-millimeter Mast Camera on August 23. Scientists enhanced the color to show the Martian scene under the lighting conditions we have on Earth, which helps in analyzing the terrain.   REUTERS/NASA/Handout</p>

The base of Mars' Mount Sharp - the rover's eventual science destination - is pictured in this August 27, 2012 photo taken by the Curiosity rover. The image is a portion of a larger image taken by Curiosity's 100-millimeter Mast Camera on August...more

The base of Mars' Mount Sharp - the rover's eventual science destination - is pictured in this August 27, 2012 photo taken by the Curiosity rover. The image is a portion of a larger image taken by Curiosity's 100-millimeter Mast Camera on August 23. Scientists enhanced the color to show the Martian scene under the lighting conditions we have on Earth, which helps in analyzing the terrain. REUTERS/NASA/Handout

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<p>The Martian horizon is seen by a camera onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity in this handout image taken and released August 8, 2012. 
 REUTERS/NASA</p>

The Martian horizon is seen by a camera onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity in this handout image taken and released August 8, 2012. REUTERS/NASA

The Martian horizon is seen by a camera onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity in this handout image taken and released August 8, 2012. REUTERS/NASA

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<p>A cliff, up to 4,000 m high, located in the eastern part of Echus Chasma, one of the largest water source regions on Mars, July 2008. Echus Chasma is the source region of Kasei Valles which extends 3,000 km to the north. 

REUTERS/ESA/DLR/FU Berlin/G.Neukum</p>

A cliff, up to 4,000 m high, located in the eastern part of Echus Chasma, one of the largest water source regions on Mars, July 2008. Echus Chasma is the source region of Kasei Valles which extends 3,000 km to the north. REUTERS/ESA/DLR/FU...more

A cliff, up to 4,000 m high, located in the eastern part of Echus Chasma, one of the largest water source regions on Mars, July 2008. Echus Chasma is the source region of Kasei Valles which extends 3,000 km to the north. REUTERS/ESA/DLR/FU Berlin/G.Neukum

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<p>NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander's Surface Stereo Imager shows two trenches dug by Phoenix's Robotic Arm in  June 2008. 


REUTERS/NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona/Texas A&amp;M University</p>

NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander's Surface Stereo Imager shows two trenches dug by Phoenix's Robotic Arm in June 2008. REUTERS/NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona/Texas A&M University

NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander's Surface Stereo Imager shows two trenches dug by Phoenix's Robotic Arm in June 2008. REUTERS/NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona/Texas A&M University

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<p>Mars' Victoria Crater at Meridiani Planum in an image taken by NASA's High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera and released October 6, 2006. 



REUTERS/NASA/JPL/Caltech</p>

Mars' Victoria Crater at Meridiani Planum in an image taken by NASA's High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera and released October 6, 2006. REUTERS/NASA/JPL/Caltech

Mars' Victoria Crater at Meridiani Planum in an image taken by NASA's High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera and released October 6, 2006. REUTERS/NASA/JPL/Caltech

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<p>A close-up of the sunset on Sol 24 as seen by the Imager for Mars Pathfinder released by the Jet Propulsion Labratory in August 1997.  REUTERS/NASA/JPL</p>

A close-up of the sunset on Sol 24 as seen by the Imager for Mars Pathfinder released by the Jet Propulsion Labratory in August 1997. REUTERS/NASA/JPL

A close-up of the sunset on Sol 24 as seen by the Imager for Mars Pathfinder released by the Jet Propulsion Labratory in August 1997. REUTERS/NASA/JPL

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<p>Images taken by ESA's Mars Express of Echus Chasma in July 2008. Echus Chasma is an approximately 100 km long and 10 km wide incision in the Lunae Planum high plateau north of Valles Marineris, the Grand Canyon of Mars.   

REUTERS/ESA/DLR/FU Berlin/G.Neukum</p>

Images taken by ESA's Mars Express of Echus Chasma in July 2008. Echus Chasma is an approximately 100 km long and 10 km wide incision in the Lunae Planum high plateau north of Valles Marineris, the Grand Canyon of Mars. REUTERS/ESA/DLR/FU...more

Images taken by ESA's Mars Express of Echus Chasma in July 2008. Echus Chasma is an approximately 100 km long and 10 km wide incision in the Lunae Planum high plateau north of Valles Marineris, the Grand Canyon of Mars. REUTERS/ESA/DLR/FU Berlin/G.Neukum

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<p>Rocky cliffs in the foreground named "Cape Verde" are seen in this image taken by Mars Exploration rover in 2006. REUTERS/NASA-JPL/Handout</p>

Rocky cliffs in the foreground named "Cape Verde" are seen in this image taken by Mars Exploration rover in 2006. REUTERS/NASA-JPL/Handout

Rocky cliffs in the foreground named "Cape Verde" are seen in this image taken by Mars Exploration rover in 2006. REUTERS/NASA-JPL/Handout

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<p>A visualisation of Mars, created from spacecraft imagery by the European Space Agency. 
 REUTERS/Stringer</p>

A visualisation of Mars, created from spacecraft imagery by the European Space Agency. REUTERS/Stringer

A visualisation of Mars, created from spacecraft imagery by the European Space Agency. REUTERS/Stringer

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<p>This image, cropped from a larger panoramic image mosaic taken by the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit panoramic camera, released by in March 2004, shows the rover's destination toward the hills nicknamed the "Columbia Hills." 


REUTERS/NASA/JPLCornell/USGS</p>

This image, cropped from a larger panoramic image mosaic taken by the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit panoramic camera, released by in March 2004, shows the rover's destination toward the hills nicknamed the "Columbia Hills."...more

This image, cropped from a larger panoramic image mosaic taken by the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit panoramic camera, released by in March 2004, shows the rover's destination toward the hills nicknamed the "Columbia Hills." REUTERS/NASA/JPLCornell/USGS

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<p>An iron meteorite on Mars in an image taken by NASA's Mars Exploration Rover "Opportunity" in January 2005. 


REUTERS/NASA/JPL/Cornell</p>

An iron meteorite on Mars in an image taken by NASA's Mars Exploration Rover "Opportunity" in January 2005. REUTERS/NASA/JPL/Cornell

An iron meteorite on Mars in an image taken by NASA's Mars Exploration Rover "Opportunity" in January 2005. REUTERS/NASA/JPL/Cornell

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<p>A high-resolution image, using data from the NASA Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity's panoramic camera's near-infrared, blue and green filters combined to create an approximate true-color image, highlights the puzzling rock outcropping that lies to the northwest of the rover, January 28, 2004. 


REUTERS/HO/NASA/JPL/Cornell</p>

A high-resolution image, using data from the NASA Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity's panoramic camera's near-infrared, blue and green filters combined to create an approximate true-color image, highlights the puzzling rock outcropping that lies to...more

A high-resolution image, using data from the NASA Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity's panoramic camera's near-infrared, blue and green filters combined to create an approximate true-color image, highlights the puzzling rock outcropping that lies to the northwest of the rover, January 28, 2004. REUTERS/HO/NASA/JPL/Cornell

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<p>A computer-generated image depicting part of Mars at the boundary between darkness and daylight, with an area including Gale Crater, beginning to catch morning light. Image released August 2011. 


REUTERS/NASA/JPL-Caltech</p>

A computer-generated image depicting part of Mars at the boundary between darkness and daylight, with an area including Gale Crater, beginning to catch morning light. Image released August 2011. REUTERS/NASA/JPL-Caltech

A computer-generated image depicting part of Mars at the boundary between darkness and daylight, with an area including Gale Crater, beginning to catch morning light. Image released August 2011. REUTERS/NASA/JPL-Caltech

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<p>A portion of the west rim of Endeavour crater sweeps southward in this color view from NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity released in August 2011. 



REUTERS/NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/ASU</p>

A portion of the west rim of Endeavour crater sweeps southward in this color view from NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity released in August 2011. REUTERS/NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/ASU

A portion of the west rim of Endeavour crater sweeps southward in this color view from NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity released in August 2011. REUTERS/NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/ASU

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<p>A view of a path of soil discovered by NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit that scientists say suggests that long ago hot springs may have percolated on the Martian surface, providing an environment quite conducive to life. 

REUTERS/NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory/Cornell University</p>

A view of a path of soil discovered by NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit that scientists say suggests that long ago hot springs may have percolated on the Martian surface, providing an environment quite conducive to life. REUTERS/NASA/Jet...more

A view of a path of soil discovered by NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit that scientists say suggests that long ago hot springs may have percolated on the Martian surface, providing an environment quite conducive to life. REUTERS/NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory/Cornell University

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