Astronomy Picture of the Day
December 10, 2012

Inside Endurance Crater
Inside Endurance Crater

Credits: NASA/JPL-Cornell - MER Opportunity - Credits for the additional process. and color.: Dr Paolo C. Finega/Lunar Explorer Italia/IPF

When the NASA - Mars Exploration (MER) Rover Opportunity creeped farther down into "Endurance Crater" (this "Adventure happened more than 8 years ago, such as in August 2004), the Dunefield located on the Crater Floor appeared really dramatic and fascinating. This image, taken by the Rover's Panoramic Camera (PanCam) shows that the Crests (---> Tops) of the Dunes have accumulated more Dust than both their Flanks and the Flat Surfaces existing between them. Also evident is a "gray" tint on the Flat Surfaces which becomes more evident when these Flat Areas are compared to the Dune Flanks. This color is, very likely, the final result of an abundant presence of Hematite-containing Spherules (such as the so-called "Martian Blueberries") that, in time, have accumulated on the aforementioned Flat Surfaces.

Sinuous Tendrils (---> Arm-like Features) of Sand - less than 1 meter (such as 3,3 feet) high - extend from the Main Dunefield toward the Rover. As you know, Dunes are a very common Surface Feature all across the Surface of Mars, and the knowledge that was gained from the close investigation of the Endurance Crater's Dunes has successfully been applied, afterwards, in order to get a better understanding of other similar Dunes located elsewhere in the Region of Meridiani Planum.

This picture (which is an Original NASA - Mars Exploration Rover (MER) false-color frame identified by the serial n. Sol187B_P2546_L257false-B187R1) has been additionally processed and re-colorized in Absolute Natural Colors (such as the colors that a normal human eye would actually perceive if someone were on the Surface of Mars, near the NASA - Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity, and then looked towards the Dunefield located inside Endurance Crater), by using an original technique created - and, in time, dramatically improved - by the Lunar Explorer Italia Team.

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