Astronomy Picture of the Day
April 8, 2013

Features of Gale Crater (Part I)
Features of Gale Crater (Part I)

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

During the month of April, of the AD 2013, Mars will be in a so-called "Conjunction" relative to the Planet Earth. This means that the Sun is exactly in the line-of-(direct) sight between the two aforementioned Celestial Bodies, such as our Home Planet Earth and the Red Planet. In this Spatial Configuration, as you can easily understand, the communications between the two Planets are - in fact - almost impossible; however, during the Conjunction Period, the Rovers operating on the Surface of Mars and the Spacecrafts orbiting around it, will continue to operate, but without sending all the collected data to Earth. This data, which are all recorded and stored, will be sent to Earth when the Conjunction is over, Mars shall have moved away from behind the Sun (of course, only from our Terrestrial point of view) and therefore the line-of-(direct) sight between Earth and Mars is re-established.


During the Conjunction Period, the "NASA - THEMIS Image of the Day" will be a visual tour of Gale Crater, such as the location of the newest Mars Exploration Rover (and Laboratory) Curiosity. The first image of Gale Crater that we propose you on today's APOD (image that was taken more than 6 years ago, by the NASA - Mars Odyssey Orbiter, during its 23.897th orbit around the Red Planet) shows, among other Features, the Landing Site of the Mars Exploration Rover (and Laboratory) Curiosity (which is located approximately near the center of the image). On the other hand, the Dark Material that is visible towards the South (the lower portion of the frame), is just (Basaltic, most likely) Sand that is set on the Floor of Gale Crater in the form of Dunes; Dunes that the Curiosity Rover, in a way or another, will have to navigate through in order to get to the Layered Central Deposit (also partially visible in the frame), whose official name, as you should know by now, is "Mount Sharp".


Latitude (centered): 4,47891° South
Longitude (centered): 137,46500° East
Instrument: VIS
Captured: April, 5th, 2007


This frame (which is an Original Mars Odyssey Orbiter b/w frame published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 16289) 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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