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.

2011 April 4
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Verona Rupes: Tallest Known Cliff in the Solar System
Credit: Voyager 2, NASA

Explanation: Could you survive a jump off the tallest cliff in the Solar System? Quite possibly. Verona Rupes on Uranus' moon Miranda is estimated to be 20 kilometers deep -- ten times the depth of the Earth's Grand Canyon. Given Miranda's low gravity, it would take about 12 minutes for a thrill-seeking adventurer to fall from the top, reaching the bottom at the speed of a racecar -- about 200 kilometers per hour. Even so, the fall might be survivable given proper airbag protection. The above image of Verona Rupes was captured by the passing Voyager 2 robotic spacecraft in 1986. How the giant cliff was created remains unknown, but is possibly related to a large impact or tectonic surface motion.

Tomorrow's picture: sky arch

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