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.

2010 June 19
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
 the highest resolution version available.

Stereo Itokawa
Credit: ISAS, JAXA; Stereo Image by Patrick Vantuyne

Explanation: Get out your red/blue glasses and float next to asteroid Itokawa, a diminutive world of the solar system only half a kilometer across. Boulders strewn across its rough surface and the lack of craters indicate that this asteroid is a rubble pile, formed as smaller pieces collected and were kept together by gravity. The stereo view was constructed from images made by the Hayabusa spacecraft when it encountered the asteroid in 2005. After a long journey, the spacecraft re-entered the atmosphere on June 13 over Australia, successfully parachuting a capsule to Earth. Hayabusa's capsule could contain a small sample of material from rubble pile asteroid Itokawa.

Ponder: Can you guess the result to this simple experiment?
Tomorrow's picture: big lens

< | Archive | Index | Search | Calendar | RSS | Education | About APOD | Discuss | >

Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)
NASA Official: Phillip Newman Specific rights apply.
NASA Web Privacy Policy and Important Notices
A service of: ASD at NASA / GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.