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.

2007 May 7
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
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Europa Rising
Credit: NASA, Johns Hopkins U. APL, SWRI

Explanation: When passing Jupiter on your way to Pluto, what should you look for? NASA pondered just this question recently, and the response from one space enthusiast was to capture the above breathtaking moonrise. The unusual vista was then actually captured by the New Horizons spacecraft in February just after it buzzed past Jupiter on its way to Pluto and the outer Solar System. Visible above is the cracked surface of Europa's expansive ice fields, visible just behind a jumble of Jupiter's swirling clouds. Europa is one of the largest moons of Jupiter and a possible host to sub-surface liquid oceans that are real candidates for containing extra-terrestrial life. During the Jupiter flyby, New Horizons also carried out scientific observations of Jupiter's cloud tops and comparative images of Io's volcanoes and its continually changing surface.

Tomorrow's picture: sky dying

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