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.

2023 June 27
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MAVEN's Ultraviolet Mars
Image Credit: MAVEN, Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, Univ. Colorado, NASA

Explanation: These two global views of Mars were captured at ultraviolet wavelengths, beyond the spectrum visible to human eyes. Recorded by the MAVEN spacecraft's Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph instrument in July 2022 (left) and January 2023, three otherwise invisible ultraviolet bands are mapped into red, green, and blue colors. That color scheme presents the Red Planet's surface features in shades of tan and green. Haze and clouds appear white or blue, while high altitude ozone takes on a dramatic purple hue. On the left, Mars' south polar ice cap is in brilliant white at the bottom but shrinking during the southern hemisphere's summer season. On the right, the northern hemisphere's polar region is seen shrouded in clouds and atmospheric ozone. Known to some as the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN spacecraft, MAVEN has been exploring Mars' tenuous upper atmosphere, ionosphere, and its interactions with the Sun and solar wind since 2014.

Tomorrow's picture: star cloud

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