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.

November 13, 1997

Mars: A Sheer Close-up
Credit: MGS Project, JPL, NASA

Explanation: As the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft maneuvers toward its final mapping orbit, its cameras have been producing some sharp views of Mars. At a resolution of better than 30 feet per pixel, this image of a portion of the immense canyon, Valles Marineris, highlights the sheer mountain cliffs over 3200 feet tall near the canyon walls. The striking and extensive layering clearly apparent in the triangular mountain face was totally unanticipated. This exciting new result challenges common theories about the surface of Mars and argues that a complex early geological history is responsible for the current Martian landscape.

Tomorrow's picture: A Gumdrop 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.