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.

2008 May 26
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
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A New Horizon for Phoenix
Credit: Phoenix Mission Team, NASA, JPL-Caltech, Univ. Arizona

Explanation: This flat horizon stretches across the red planet as seen by the Phoenix spacecraft after yesterday's landing on Mars. Touching down shortly after 7:30pm Eastern Time, Phoenix made the first successful soft landing on Mars, using rockets to control its final speed, since the Viking landers in 1976. Launched in August of 2007, Phoenix has now made the northernmost landing and is intended to explore the Martian arctic's potentially ice-rich soil. The lander has returned images and data initially indicating that it is in excellent shape after a nearly flawless descent. News updates will be available throughout the day.

Tomorrow's picture: bigger picture

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