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.

August 16, 1999
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download 
 the highest resolution version available.

Mars Weather Watch
Credit: Malin Space Science Systems, MGS, JPL, NASA

Explanation: Mars may be a cold, dry planet but its weather is dynamic. On June 30, wide angle cameras on board the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) spacecraft watched the development of this large scale storm system above Mars' north polar area. These frames were recorded on successive mapping orbits at intervals of about 2 hours, with the white north polar cap near the center of each. High winds seem to mix the brownish dust clouds and white water-ice clouds as the curling storm front churns over the extreme northern martain landscape. The MGS cameras have watched similar storms in this region during the months of July and August revealing surprisingly complex weather. Mars Climate Orbiter will join the MGS spacecraft in martian orbit in late September, and in December Mars Polar Lander is scheduled to touch down near the Red Planet's south pole.

Tomorrow's picture: A Crescent Sunrise

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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.