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.

December 11, 1997
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download 
 the highest resolution version available.

A Martian Lake Bed?
Credit: MGS Project, JPL, NASA

Explanation: Look closely. In this Mars Global Surveyor image of the Martian surface just south of Schiaparelli crater, dark lines appear to criss-cross light colored depressions. One tantalizing possibility is simply that the feature near the center is similar to a dried-up lake bed on planet Earth, where light colored mineral deposits are left as water evaporates and cracks are produced as the ground dries. This potential Martian lake bed is roughly 3/4 miles across and may provide further evidence that Mars once possessed surface water. Recently announced results from the Mars Pathfinder mission also point to a Martian past which included a denser atmosphere and surface water - conditions which could have supported life.

Tomorrow's picture: Double Star

< Archive | Index | Search | Calendar | Glossary | Education | About APOD >

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.