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.

2004 February 4
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Opportunity's Horizon
Credit: Mars Exploration Rover Mission, JPL, NASA

Explanation: Remarkably, the Opportunity Mars rover lies in a small martian impact crater about 3 meters deep and 22 meters wide. For 360 degrees, Opportunity's horizon stretches to the right in this new color mosaic image from the rover's panoramic camera. Notable in this view of the generally dark, smooth terrain are surface imprints left by the lander's airbags and an outcropping of light-colored, layered rock about 8 meters away toward the northwest. Though they look imposing, the rocks in the tantalizing outcrop are only a few centimeters high and will be dwarfed by the cart-sized rover itself during future close-up investigations. Opportunity has now rolled off its lander and, along with the restored Spirit rover, is directly exploring the martian surface.

Tomorrow's picture: star birth in a small galaxy

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