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.

January 7, 1998
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download 
 the highest resolution version available.

The Colorful Moon
Credit: Galileo Project, JPL, NASA

Explanation: Do you recognize the Earth's Moon when you see it? The crazy, patchwork appearance of this false color image makes this nearly full view of our Moon's familiar nearside look very strange. The image was taken in 1992 by the Galileo spacecraft enroute to Jupiter. The Sea of Tranquillity (Mare Tranquillitatis) is the blue area at right, the Ocean of Storms (Oceanus Procellarum) is the extensive blue and orange area on the left, and white lines radiate from the crater Tycho at bottom center. Three filters were used to make three separate exposures, combined in an exaggerated color scheme to emphasize composition differences - blue hues reveal titanium rich areas while orange and purple colors show regions relatively poor in titanium and iron. NASA soon plans to conduct an extensive remote exploration of the lunar surface, including a search for water ice near the lunar South Pole, with the Lunar Prospector spacecraft.

Tomorrow's picture: Prospects

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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.