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.

August 4, 1997

A Rusty Sunset on Mars
Credit: IMP Team, JPL, NASA

Explanation: On Mars, sunsets can appear salmon pink. The unusual color is partly due to rust: oxidized iron from Martian dust circulating in the Martian atmosphere. Clouds appear in the morning and evening, but usually evaporate in the midday Sun. A day on Mars lasts 24.6 hours - very similar to Earth's, but a Martian year lasts almost twice as long as an Earth year. The above panorama by Mars Pathfinder, shown mirror-inverted, was released last Friday by the Imager team. Mars Pathfinder has now successfully completed all the goals of its planned mission. Nevertheless, the Sagan Memorial Station spent the weekend recharging its batteries, anticipating the possibility of still more productive weeks of exploration ahead.

Tomorrow's picture: M101: The Pinwheel Galaxy

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
&: Michigan Tech. U.