Astronomy Picture of the Day
March 27, 2013

Deep down in Aureum Chaos
Deep down in Aureum Chaos

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

Although Mars has a (relatively) thin Atmosphere, the Wind is nevertheless (and, as a matter of fact, very often) strong enough to make Sand Dunes and Ripples (jointly referred as to "Bedforms") move, change shapes and positions. Such changes have already been recorded in the past by the HiRISE and now the HiRISE Science Team is continuing to monitor a few Martian Regions which contain a consistent quantity of the aformentioned Bedforms in order to see if they have actually moved. This image, in particular, shows us a small portion of Aureum Chaos, which, in the search for changings in the Landscape, is one of the most monitored Martian Regions.

Aureum Chaos is a jumbled assemblage of large Terrain Blocks that were disrupted by the occurrence of some - at the present time still not well known - extremely ancient Geological Process. The Edges of the Blocks commonly display Layered Rock Strata and the lower areas located in between the Blocks themselves, can trap huge quantities of Sand. In a preliminary comparison of this frame with another HiRISE image (such as the one identified by the serial n. ESP_013269_1765 and acquired two Martian Years ago), no Bedform changes appeared obvious (---> visible); however, a more thorough analysis is still needed (and the best way to determine if any motion has actually occurred, will be to get a Topographic Model of the Region and then to "warp" the images so that they fit the Topography itself and thereby removing any possible distortions which might have been present and caused by the so-called "Viewing Geometry").

However, this image is rich of interesting geologic details and, once we carefully look at this EDM (taken from the NASA - Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter frame identified by the serial n. ESP_030675_1765) we cas easily see, towards the lower right of the picture, abundant and large Ripples. On the other hand, on the Wall that is located from the middle to the upper right of the frame, Rocks showing at least two different colors are well visible: an upper pink-yellowish Rocky Unit and a lower one which appears to be orange and brown. In the area of the frame located in between the second Rock Unit and the Floor of Aureum Chaos (such as where the Ripples are found), some white Material (possibly Bedrock) can also be seen. As we said before, all these Rocky Features may actually represent distinct Rock Strata that were deposited here even before the formation of Aureum Chaos itself.

Mars Local Time: 14:54 (Early Afternoon)
Coord. (centered): 3,650° South Lat. and 333,747° East Long.
Spacecraft altitude: 269,1 Km (such as about 167,11 miles)
Original image scale range: 26,9 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) so objects ~ 81cm across are resolved
Map projected scale: 25 cm/pixel
Emission Angle: 3,1°
Sun-Mars-Spacecraft (or Phase) Angle: 49,9°
Solar Incidence Angle
: 47° (meaning that the Sun was about 43° above the Local Horizon at the time the picture was taken)
Solar Longitude: 262,0° (Northern Fall - Southern Spring)
Credits: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
Additional process. and coloring: Lunar Explorer Italia

This picture (which is an Original Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter EDM enhanced color frame, identified by the serial n. ESP_030675_1765) has been additionally processed and then re-colorized in Absolute Natural Colors (such as the colors that a human eye would actually perceive if someone were onboard the NASA - Mars Reconnaissance 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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