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.

2001 March 31
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download 
 the highest resolution version available.

Credit: Viking Project, NASA

Explanation: "Yes, I have been to Barsoom again ..." begins John Carter in Edgar Rice Burroughs' 1913 science fiction classic "The Gods of Mars". In Burroughs' novels describing Carter's adventures on Mars, "Barsoom" is the local inhabitants' name for the Red Planet. Long after Burroughs' stories were published, Mars continues to inspire Earthdwellers' interests and imagination. Soon it will again be invaded by spacecraft from Earth. This dramatic picture of a crescent Mars was taken by NASA's Viking 2 spacecraft as it approached Barsoom in 1976.

Tomorrow's picture: Quidditch in Space

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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.