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.

2005 April 26
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
 the highest resolution version available.

A Martian Dust Devil Passes
Credit: Mars Exploration Rover Mission, JPL, NASA

Explanation: What goes there across the plains of Mars? A dust devil. For the first time, definitive movies of the famous spinning dust towers have been created from ground level. The robot rover Spirit has now imaged several dust devils from its hillside perch just within the past two months. Each image in the above sequence was taken about 20 seconds apart. Inspection of the digitally resized images show the passing dust devil raising Martian dust so thick that it casts a shadow. The new dust devil movies have been made possible by a new hybrid interaction system where the robot Spirit on Mars takes many images and humans on Earth inspect thumbnails and decide which full resolution images to send back.

Tomorrow's picture: galactic hercules

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