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.

2000 October 20
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download 
 the highest resolution version available.

North Pole Below

Explanation: Orbiting over the north pole of planet Earth on May 5, the MODIS instrument on-board the Terra spacecraft, recorded this view of the ice cap 700 kilometers below. A radial grid centered on the pole is shown on top of the approximately true color image where each pixel covers about one square kilometer. Frozen sea ice appears whitish while open water or newly refrozen ice looks black. An impressive criss-crossing network of cracks in ice shifting above a liquid water ocean is visible, traced by the meandering dark lines. In fact, the dark network of cracks in the sea ice is reminiscent of another world in our solar system which may also harbor a liquid water ocean -- Jupiter's ice moon Europa.

Tomorrow's picture: Averted Side of the Moon

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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.