Astronomy Picture of the Day
September 18, 2012

The Footprint Volcano
The Footprint Volcano

Credits: NASA/JPL/MSSS - Mars Global Surveyor Mission - Credits for the additional process.: Dr Paolo C. Fienga/Lunar Explorer Italia/IPF

This NASA - Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) - Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) High Resolution image, acquired on the date of July, 13, 2003, shows a small, Dust-covered and so far - officially - Unnamed Volcano (note: the nickname "Footprint" has been given to this Surface Feature by the Researchers of the Italian Planetary Foundation) that is located on the Volcanic Plains to the East of the Giant Martian VolcanoPavonis Mons.


It is interesting to notice that the Floor of the Caldera - such as the usually elliptical (but here somehow "Footprint-shaped") depression visible at the Summit of the Volcano - has quite a few windblown Ripples on it. The Ripples and the extremely thick Dust Mantle, together with a number of small Impact Craters located on its Surface, are signs which indicate that the "Footprint" Volcano erupted a VERY long time ago, and that there has been no more activity in (geologically speaking) recent times. In addition to the above, we also wish to underline that, while the Surface surrounding the Footprint Volcano has kept, despite the eons of volcanic idleness, a dark gray color (such as the typical colors of Lava, once is cooled off, and Volcanic Ashes), the Land that is farther away from the Volcano has maintained (or maybe re-gained?) the typical brown-orange color which characterizes most of the Equatorial and Peri-Equatorial Surface of Mars.


This image covers an area approx. 3 by 6,8 Km wide (such as approx. 1,9 by 4,2 miles). The Footprint Volcano is located near 1,6° South Lat. and 105,7° West Long.; the Sunlight illuminates the scene from the South.


The frame has been colorized in Absolute Natural Colors (such as the colors that a human eye would actually perceive if someone were onboard the NASA - Mars Global Surveyor Orbiter and then looked down, towards the Surface of Mars), by using an original technique created - and, in time, dramatically improved - by the Lunar Explorer Italia Team.


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