This historic image is the first ever taken from a spacecraft in orbit about <a href="/mercury/mercury.html&edu=high">Mercury</a>, the innermost planet of the solar system.  Taken on 3/29/2011 by <a href="/space_missions/robotic/messenger/messenger.html&edu=high">MESSENGER</a>, it shows numerous craters across the <a href="/mercury/Interior_Surface/Surface/surface_overview.html&edu=high">surface</a> of the planet.  Temperatures there can reach over 800F because Mercury is so close to the Sun and rotates so slowly.  MESSENGER entered orbit around Mercury earlier in March 2011.<p><small><em>NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington</em></small></p>A new study has found that <a href="/earth/Atmosphere/airpollution_intro.html&edu=high">pollution</a> from <a href="/earth/Atmosphere/particulates.html&edu=high">fine particles</a> in the air - mainly the result of burning coal or <a href="/earth/interior/eruptions.html&edu=high">volcanic eruptions</a> - can shade <a href="/earth/Life/cnidarian.html&edu=high">corals</a> from sunlight and cool the surrounding water resulting in reduced growth rates.  Coral growth rates in the Caribbean were affected by volcanic aerosol emissions in the early 20th century and by aerosol emissions caused by humans in the later 20th century.  For more information, see the <a href="http://www.exeter.ac.uk/news/featurednews/title_278202_en.html">press release</a>.<p><small><em>Image courtesy of Toby Hudson (Wikimedia Commons)</em></small></p>On May 20, 2013, a massive EF5 <a href="http://www.windows2universe.org/earth/Atmosphere/tornado.html">tornado</a> hit Moore, Oklahoma, devastating communities and lives.  The tornado, on the ground for 40 minutes, took a path through a subdivision of homes, destroying block after block of homes, and hitting two elementary schools just as school was ending as well as a hospital. Hundreds of people were injured, and 24 were killed.<p><small><em>Image courtesy of Ks0stm, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license</em></small></p>An image of Hurricane Sandy taken by the GOES-13 satellite on October 28.  This category 1 <a href="/earth/Atmosphere/hurricane/hurricane.html&edu=high">hurricane</a> was huge, spanning a horizontal distance of about one-third the US continental landmass.  The storm came onshore in New Jersey, and gradually moved northeast.  The storm disrupted the lives of tens of millions in the eastern US, doing billions of dollars in damage, resulting in over 30 deaths.  Visit the National Hurricane Center's webpage on <a href="http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/">Hurricane Sandy</a> for details.<p><small><em>Image courtesy of NASA</em></small></p>An artist's rendering of the moment of impact of a massive <a
  href="/our_solar_system/meteors/meteors.html&edu=high">meteorite</a>
  at the end of the Cretaceous (at the end of the <a
  href="/earth/geology/hist_mesozoic.html&edu=high">Mesozoic
  Era</a>). Many
  scientists have concluded for decades that a meteorite four to six kilometers
  in diameter impacted the Earth at this time, resulting in a <a
  href="/earth/past/KTextinction.html&edu=high">mass extinction
  of dinosaurs</a> and many other life forms. Recent research suggests that
 perhaps <a
  href="/headline_universe/olpa/chicxulub.html&edu=high">massive
  volcanic eruptions</a> may be been responsible for the extinction.<p><small><em>Courtesy of Don Davis, NASA</em></small></p>There are over 900 <a href="/the_universe/uts/megalith.html&edu=high">rings of stone</a> located in the British Isles. The most famous of these stone rings is of course, <a href="/the_universe/uts/stonehenge.html&edu=high">Stonehenge</a>.    The stones of Stonehenge were put in place between 3,000 B.C and 2,000 B.C. by neolithic people.Some speculate that the site was built as a temple of worship of the ancient Earth deities. Some say it was used as an <a href="/the_universe/uts/stonehenge_astro.html&edu=high">astronomical observatory</a> of sorts. Still others say it was a burial ground.<p><small><em>  Image courtesy of Corel Photography.</em></small></p>

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