Astronomy Picture of the Day
January 27, 2013

Gullies on the Edge of Bunge Crater
Gullies on the Edge of Bunge Crater

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

This VIS image, taken by the NASA - Mars Odyssey Orbiter during its 48.288th orbit around the Red Planet, shows us a number of well defined (and deeply incised) Gullies that dissect the Inner Rim of the large Southern Bunge Crater. Remember that the so-called Gullies are widespread at Mid- to High Latitudes on the Surface of Mars, and they are believed to be some of the youngest Surface Features ever observed on the Red Planet (they could have formed within the last 100.000 years, or even less; furthermore some Planetary Scientists, including us, as IPF, believe that the process which leads to the formation of Gullies on Mars is still active, even at the present day).

Whatever the truth may be, the fact is that the Martian Gullies are one of the best lines of evidence supporting the (relatively) recent presence of liquid water on the Red Planet; as far as their formation is concerned, they could, probably, be the result of either the melting of large Snowpacks located on the Surface, or the (relatively fast) melting of Icepacks that were trapped in the shallow Subsurface; in any case, it is logical to assume that these events should, most likely, always occur during the warmest days of the Martian Summer. Last, but not least, the quick surfacing of Spring-like Flows from seated (---> quiescent) Liquid Water Aquifers located in the deeper Subsurface can also be a possible (and plausible) explanation for the formation of some types of Martian Gullies.

Latitude: 34,1675° South
Longitude: 311,594° East
Instrument: VIS
Captured: November, 2nd, 2012

This frame (which is an Original Mars Odyssey Orbiter b/w frame published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 16659) 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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