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 8, 1999
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Invader From Earth
Credit: Courtesy JPL, NASA

Explanation: These technicians are working on the solar-paneled Mars Polar Lander - yet another robotic spacecraft scheduled to invade the red planet. Mars Polar Lander is part of a series of missions focusing on a search for evidence of past or present life. Successfully launched atop a Delta II rocket on January 3rd, it should be the first to make a soft landing near Mars' South Pole. Its arrival is planned for December, springtime for the Martian Southern Hemisphere. Riding along are two separate microprobes intended to penetrate up to 2 meters beneath the soil in an attempt to directly determine if subsurface water ice is present. Mars Polar Lander will also carry another first to Mars ... a microphone.

Tomorrow's picture: Moon Robot

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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.