Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2003 April 22
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
 the highest resolution version available.

Springtime on Mars

Explanation: Vast canyons, towering volcanoes, sprawling fields of ice, deep craters, and high clouds can all be seen in this image of the Solar System's fourth planet: Mars. The orbiting robot Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft took the above mosaic of images as springtime dawned in Northern Mars in 2002 May. Sprawled across the image bottom is Valles Marinaris, a canyon three times the length of Earth's Grand Canyon, and four times as deep. On the left are several volcanoes including Olympus Mons, a volcano three times higher than Earth's Mt. Everest. At the top is the North Polar Cap made of thawing water and carbon-dioxide based ice. Swirling white clouds and circular impact craters are also visible around Mars. Two rovers will be launched to Mars this summer and should arrive in 2004 January.

Tomorrow's picture: small galaxy

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
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