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.

March 24, 1997
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download 
 the highest resolution version available.

The Weather on Mars
D. Crisp & WFPC2 Team (JPL/Caltech), HST, NASA

Explanation: Would Mars be a nice place to visit? Sometimes. Much of Mars undergoes severe changes in climate during its orbit around the Sun, ranging from extreme cold to temperatures enjoyable by humans. But Mars is usually a nice place to visit for hardy spacecraft, and in fact the Mars Pathfinder and Mars Global Surveyor missions are currently headed for the "Red Planet." In preparation for the scheduled Mars Pathfinder landing on July 4th, 1997, the Earth-Orbiting Hubble Space Telescope recently took the above high resolution photograph. The picture shows the onset of Martian summer (northern hemisphere) when, apparently, the northern polar cap recedes to uncover dark sand dunes.

Tomorrow's picture: Comet Hale Bopp Brightest Comet This Century

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
&: Michigan Tech. U.