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.

2002 December 24
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
 the highest resolution version available.

Spring Dust Storms at the North Pole of Mars

Explanation: Spring reached the north pole of Mars in May, and brought with it the usual dust storms. As the north polar cap begins to thaw, a temperature difference occurs between the cold frost region and recently thawed surface, resulting in swirling winds between the adjacent regions. In the above image mosaic from the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft currently orbiting Mars, the white material is frozen carbon dioxide that covers much of the extreme north. The choppy clouds of at least three dust storms can be identified.

Tomorrow's picture: Star Mountain

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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
& NASA SEU Edu. Forum
& Michigan Tech. U.