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.

2012 January 25
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Opportunity Rover Spots Greeley Haven on Mars
Image Credit: Mars Exploration Rover Mission, Cornell, JPL, NASA

Explanation: Where on Mars should you spend the winter? As winter approached in the southern hemisphere of Mars last November, the Opportunity rover had just this problem -- it needed a place to go. The reduced amount of sunlight impacting Opportunity's solar panels combined with the extra power needed to keep equipment warm could drain Opportunity's batteries. Therefore Opportunity was instructed to climb onto the 15 degree incline of Greeley's Haven, shown as the rocky slope ahead. The incline increased power input as Opportunity's solar panels now have greater exposure to sunlight, while also giving the rolling robot some interesting landscape to explore. Visible in the distance, beyond Greeley Haven, lies expansive Endeavour Crater, the ancient impact basin that Opportunity will continue exploring as the Martian winter concludes in a few months, if it survives.

Tomorrow's picture: small galaxies

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