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.

2003 July 10
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
 the highest resolution version available.

Dust Storm Over Northern Mars
Credit: Malin Space Science Systems, MGS, JPL, NASA

Explanation: Almost on cue, as Mars nears its closest approach to planet Earth in recorded history, ominous seasonal dust storms are beginning to kick up. Observers worry that the activity may presage the development of a planet wide dust storm, frustrating attempts to view Mars in the coming months, a situation similar to the Red Planet's uncooperative behavior in 2001. In this example, recorded in mid-May by the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft camera, a dust storm the size of a continent sweeps north and east (toward the upper right) across Mars' northern Acidalia Planitia. Meanwhile, interplanetary robotic explorers Mars Express/ Beagle 2, Nozomi, and the twin Mars Exploration Rovers Opportunity and Spirit, are all bound for Mars and should arrive by early January 2004.

Tomorrow's picture: reflections from a black hole

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
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