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 August 11
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
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The First Color Panorama from Mars by Curiosity
Image Credit: NASA, JPL-Caltech, MSSS

Explanation: You've just landed on Mars and opened your eyes -- what do you see? If you're the Curiosity rover, you see a strange gravelly place with a large mountain in the distance. You've landed on target near the edge of 150-km wide Gale Crater, with Mount Sharp on the horizon being the rise in the crater's center. As a car-sized rover with six wheels and a laser, you prepare yourself to go on a two-year mission of exploration, climbing Mt. Sharp, and looking for signs that Mars once harbored life. Currently you sit motionless, check yourself over, and receive a detailed briefing from Earth on things you will need to know while rolling around, trying to avoid flipping over or getting your wheels stuck in sand. Your rolling explorations will likely start in a few days. What will you find? What's out there?

Tomorrow's picture: galaxies in collision

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)
NASA Official: Phillip Newman Specific rights apply.
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