Astronomy Picture of the Day
February 5, 2013

Martian Oddities, in context - Sol 173
Martian Oddities, in context - Sol 173

Credits: NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems (MSSS) - Credits for the research, the additional process. and color.: Dr Gianluigi Barca and Ivana Tognoloni/Lunar Explorer Italia/IPF

As we wrote in yesterday's APOD, nobody knows for sure what this bright and metal-looking Feature that shines in the Sun right in front of the NASA - Mars Exploration Rover - Mars Laboratory "Curiosity" - and highlighted by a red circle that we drew around it - can be. As a matter of fact, the texture of the whole Feature (that looks extremely smooth) and the color of its upper portion, are completely different from the texture and color of the Rocky Paving that the Feature appears to be part of, and which characterizes the area currently explored by the Rover, and known as Yellowknife Bay. Maybe, if the NASA People will decide to get closer to this intriguing Feature and so take a better look at it, we may know more. But for now, we can only draw your attention on what it seems to be one of the greatest oddities ever discovered on the Red Planet.

And that is not all! Look at the Feature highlighted by the yellow square that we drew around it and then take a careful look at what seems to be hiding in an horizontal crack of the huge boulder that is only a few meters away from the Rover... Is that an optical illusion? A very oddly-shaped rock? Or - maybe - we are really looking at something that looks like a small rodent that can perfectly "hide in plain sight"? Of course, we do not know. What we do know is that this second Feature is not just a a light-trick (actually, it casts a small shadow on the wall of the crack behind it), but something real. Something that, in our opinion, as IPF, should really be investigated...

This picture (which is an image-mosaic obtained from several Original NASA - Mars Exploration Rover - Mars Laboratory "Curiosity" b/w frames taken during the 173rd Sol of the Rover's exploration of Gale Crater) has been additionally processed, calibrated and colorized in Natural Colors (such as the colors that a perfect human eye - or an Electronic Eye - would actually perceive if someone were near the NASA - Mars Exploration Rover (MER) - Mars Laboratory "Curiosity" and then looked ahead, towards the Rocky Paving located in front of and around the Rover), by using an original technique created - and, in time, dramatically improved - by the Lunar Explorer Italia Team. Different colors, as well as different shades of the same color, mean, among other things, the existence of different Elements (Minerals) present on the Surface of Gale Crater, each having a different Albedo (---> Reflectivity) and Chemical Composition.

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