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 March 18
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Spirit Pan from Bonneville Crater's Edge
Credit: Mars Exploration Rover Mission, JPL, NASA

Explanation: Scroll right and follow this breathtaking view of the martian surface from the southern edge of a small crater dubbed Bonneville. NASA's Spirit rover recorded the sharp 180-degree panorama on sols 68 and 69 of its stay on the Red Planet, following the completion of a 300+ meter journey from its landing site within Mars' expansive Gusev Crater region. Bonneville crater itself is about 200 meters across. Rocks scattered about the area are potentially "ejecta" from Bonneville, debris blasted from below the martian surface by the impact which created the crater. Researchers are eager to confirm this scenario since such material could be a guide to the geological history of the area. So what's that shiny patch on the left, just beyond the crater's far rim? It's the Spirit lander's heat shield.

Tomorrow's picture: going wild

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