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.

2006 January 5
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
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New Year Mars Panorama
Credit: Mars Exploration Rover Mission, Cornell, JPL, NASA

Explanation: According to an Earth-based calendar, the Spirit rover spent the first day of 2006 gathering data to complete this panoramic view from Gusev crater on Mars. That day corresponded to Spirit's 710th Martian day or sol on the Red Planet. Scrolling right the view spans 160 degrees, looking up a slope and across rippled sand deposits in a dark field dubbed "El Dorado". The Spirit rover is traveling in a down hill direction after reaching the summit of Husband Hill. This month, both Spirit and Opportunity rovers will celebrate two years of Mars exploration, a remarkable achievement considering their original 90 day warranty. During that time Spirit has traveled over 3.5 miles and Opportunity over 4 miles across the Martian surface.

Tomorrow's picture: tarantula

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
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& Michigan Tech. U.