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.

June 2, 1999
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download 
 the highest resolution version available.

Thermal Mars
Credit: TES Team, MGS, JPL, NASA

Explanation: It's 2 AM on Mars and surface temperatures range from -65C to -120C, as measured by the Thermal Emission Spectrometer (TES) onboard the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft. TES data used to make this detailed temperature map were acquired while passing over the night side of the Red Planet during 500 mapping orbits of Mars. With the warmest temperatures shown in white, progressing through red, yellow, and green colors to the coldest temperatures in blue, the map reveals the northern hemisphere during summer while the south experiences the cold martian winter. Near Mars' equator, the variations in nighttime temperatures are related to surface materials. Cold blue areas are covered with fine dust particles and the warmer regions are covered with coarser sand and rocks.

Tomorrow's picture: Methane Dwarf

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
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