Saturday, January 23, 2010

Astronomy Picture Of The Day

Outer space is a fascinating place. From what we can see with the naked eye from our planet's surface to the images captured by NASA on other planet surfaces... it's a vast and relatively unexplored territory.

The image above is the surface of Mars. From the website:

Explanation: They might look like trees on Mars, but they're not. Groups of dark brown streaks have been photographed by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on melting pinkish sand dunes covered with light frost. The above image was taken in 2008 April near the North Pole of Mars. At that time, dark sand on the interior of Martian sand dunes became more and more visible as the spring Sun melted the lighter carbon dioxide ice. When occurring near the top of a dune, dark sand may cascade down the dune leaving dark surface streaks -- streaks that might appear at first to be trees standing in front of the lighter regions, but cast no shadows. Objects about 25 centimeters across are resolved on this image spanning about one kilometer. Close ups of some parts of this image show billowing plumes indicating that the sand slides were occurring even when the image was being taken.

Be sure to check out NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day Archives to see the daily picture from previous days and years. It goes back to 1995 and it's amazing to consider the difference in what we could see then and what we can see now. Compare the picture of the surface of Mars shown above to a 1995 picture.

(From NASA)

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