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.

2010 August 15
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Layered Hills in Arabia Terra on Mars

Explanation: Why are some hills on Mars so layered? The answer is still under investigation. Clearly, dark windblown sand surrounds outcropping of light sedimentary rock across the floor of crater Arabia Terra. The light rock clearly appears structured into many layers, the lowest of which is likely very old. Although the dark sand forms dunes, rippled dunes of lighter colored sand are easier to see surrounding the stepped mesas. Blown sand possibly itself eroded once-larger mesas into the layered hills. Most of the layered shelves are wide enough to drive a truck around. The above image, showing an area about 3 kilometers across, was taken in 2003 October by the now defunct Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft orbiting Mars.

Tomorrow's picture: meteors streak

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