Planetary Picture of the Day
Week of April 10, 2023
Protoplanetary disks, a lunar occultation of Venus, and a strange Martian rock.
Monday, April 10, 2023
Protoplanetary Disks in Orion Molecular Clouds
Using NSF’s Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), astronomers have captured images of 328 protoplanetary disks around very young stars (protostars) in the Orion Molecular Clouds, a giant star-forming region approximately 1,400 light-years from Earth in the constellation Orion.
This composite image shows the Orion Molecular Clouds, the target of the VANDAM survey. Yellow dots are the locations of the observed protostars on a blue background image made by ESA’s Herschel Space Observatory. Side panels show nine young protostars imaged by ALMA (blue) and the VLA (orange).
Tuesday, April 11, 2023
Earth and Moon from Mercury
Looking back from its orbit around Mercury, the MESSENGER spacecraft captured this view of Earth and the Moon on May 6, 2010. The spacecraft was 183 million kilometers (114 million miles) from Earth at the time, farther than our average distance from the Sun (150 million kilometers, or 93 million miles) because Mercury and Earth were at different places in their orbits around the Sun. The image was taken by the spacecraft's Wide Angle Camera (WAC) on the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS).
Wednesday, April 12, 2023
Unusual Rock in Gale Crater
Director of the Carl Sagan Center, Dr. Nathalie Cabrol, noticed this unusual rock in a Gigapan image of Gale crater, taken by NASA's Mars Curiosity rover. "In thirty years of studying Mars, that's the most bizarre rock I have ever seen. I think it is about 50-75 centimeters in length [with] differential erosion and/or crystal growth. I saw this type of thing in Chile in a dry lakebed. Bacteria were involved there... We'll see. Strange for sure. I cannot wait to have a microscopic image of this one."
Original Gigapan: https://buff.ly/3KyAga6
Thursday, April 13, 2023
Saturn and its Northern Aurorae
This image is a composite of observations made of Saturn in early 2018 in the optical and of the auroras on Saturn’s north pole region, made in 2017.
In contrast to the auroras on Earth the auroras on Saturn are only visible in the ultraviolet — a part of the electromagnetic spectrum blocked by Earth’s atmosphere — and therefore astronomers have to rely on space telescopes like the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope to study them.
Friday, April 14, 2023
Back on March 24, 2023, sky watchers in southeast Asia were treated to the beautiful sight of the crescent Moon occulting - passing in front of - Venus. This particular photograph was taken from Kolkata, India.