Astronomy Picture of the Day
December 25, 2012

Windstreaks on the S/W Flank of Alba Mons
Windstreaks on the S/W Flank of Alba Mons

Credits: NASA/JPL/Arizona State University (ASU) - Credits for the additional process. and color.: Dr Paolo C. Fienga/Lunar Explorer Italia/IPF

Today's APOD image (taken by the NASA - Mars Odyssey Orbiter during its 47.653th orbit around the Red Planet), shows us, among other things (like a huge Graben and several sinuous Lava Channels on the lower portion of the frame and a few - almost aligned - Volcanic Fissures on the upper right of it), some beautiful Aeolian Surface Features known as "Windstreaks" (the biggest and longest one of them is well visible at the center of the frame) which are located on the South/Western Flank of the Martian Volcano Alba Mons

Alba Mons is the largest Martian Volcano (but only in terms of extension on the Surface of Mars), with Lava Flow Fields that extend for about - and at least - 1350 Km (such as approx. 840 miles) from its Summit. Although Alba Mons has a total span that makes its size comparable to the one of the United States, its elevation only reaches about 6,8 Km (such as approx. 22.000 ft) at its highest point. An elevation that only makes about one-third the height of Olympus Mons: the tallest Volcano of Mars and, as far as we know, of the whole Solar System.

The Flanks of Alba Mons (and in this picture we see, as we already mentioned before, a very small portion of the South/Western one) have very gentle Slopes: as a matter of fact, the average Slope along the Volcano's Northern (and steepest) Flank is a mere 0,5°, which is over 5 (five) times lower than the Slopes on the other large Tharsis Volcanoes. In broad profile, Alba Mons resembles a vast but barely raised Welt (---> Ridge or Bump) on the Red Planet's Surface. It is, however, a unique Volcanic Structure with no counterpart on Earth or elsewhere on Mars itself.

Latitude (centered): 34,8278° North
Longitude: 241,838° East
Instrument: VIS
Captured: September, 9th, 2012

This frame (which is an Original Mars Odyssey Orbiter b/w frame published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 16513) has been additionally processed and then colorized in Absolute Natural Colors (such as the colors that a human eye would actually perceive if someone were onboard the NASA - Mars Odyssey 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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