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.

2005 April 12
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
 the highest resolution version available.

Earth or Mars?
Earth Image Credit & Copyright: Filipe Alves;
Mars Image Credit: Mars Exploration Rover Mission, JPL, NASA

Explanation: Which image is Earth, and which is Mars? One of the above images was taken by the robot Spirit rover currently climbing Husband Hill on Mars. The other image was taken by a human across the desert south of Morocco on Earth. Both images show vast plains covered with rocks and sand. Neither shows water or obvious signs of life. Each planet has a surface so complex that any one image does not do that planet justice. Understanding either one, it turns out, helps understand the other. Does the one on the left look like home? Possibly not, but it is Earth.

Tomorrow's picture: local skykeeper

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
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