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.

April 5, 1999
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download 
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The Launch of STARDUST
Credit: Stardust Mission Team, NASA

Explanation: NASA launches powerful rockets. One such rocket, the Delta II, recently lofted the STARDUST mission into the nearby Solar System. STARDUST is expected to photograph Comet Wild in 2004 as it zooms by, and return interstellar dust samples to Earth in 2006. Currently, much remains unknown about the size distribution, primordial composition, and even shapes of these dust grains. Above, a side-mounted camera photographed the separation of the solid rocket boosters above the receding Earth.

Tomorrow's picture: The Bear Claw Nebula

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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.