Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day we feature a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

December 14, 1995
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An Atlas Centaur Rocket Launches
Credit: NASA, LeRC

Explanation: Atlas Centaur rockets have launched over 75 successful unmanned missions. These missions included the Surveyor series - the first vehicles to make soft landings on the Moon, Pioneer 10 and 11 - the first missions to fly by Jupiter and Saturn and the first man-made objects able to leave our Solar System, the Viking missions which landed on Mars, several satellites in the High Energy Astrophysics Observatory (HEAO) series, Pioneer Venus which circled and mapped the surface of Venus, and numerous Intelsat satellites. Of recent scientific interest was the Atlas launched SOHO mission which will continually observe the Sun. Atlas rockets are manufactured by Lockheed Martin Co.

Tomorrow's picture: M64: The Sleeping Beauty Galaxy

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (GMU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA).
NASA Technical Rep.: Sherri Calvo. Specific rights apply.
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