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.

2008 January 29
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West Valley Panorama from the Spirit Rover on Mars
Credit: Mars Exploration Rover Mission, Cornell, JPL, NASA

Explanation: What does Mars look like from here? Last September, before hiking across rugged and slippery terrain to reach its winter hibernation point, the robotic Spirit rover climbed a small plateau known as Home Plate and captured the spectacular vista pictured above. Part of the curious flat-topped Home Plate is visible as the light colored landscape across the panorama's foreground. On the image left, visible about eight kilometers in the distance, is Grissom Hill, while on the left foreground is rock strewn Tsiolkovski Ridge. On the right, at about 800 meters distant, is Husband Hill, already explored by Spirit and notable as the highest point visible in the westward looking panorama. In the inset is a close-up of a tiny motionless feature informally dubbed Little Bigfoot that has drawn some attention for it superficial appearance to a humanoid life form. Tenacious image explorers might locate Little Bigfoot towards the front left of the high resolution panorama. Spirit successfully reached its energy-conserving winter haven in December.

Tomorrow's picture: Earth spared

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