Astronomy Picture of the Day
July 29, 2013

Yellowknife Bay, from atop (EDM)
Yellowknife Bay, from atop (EDM)

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

This image was acquired by the NASA - Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on June, 27th, 2013, while the Spacecraft was moving towards the East, its Subsolar Latitude was - (minus) 7.26° and therefore quite close to the Latitude of the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) - Mars Laboratory - "Curiosity" (which was, at the time when the picture was taken, 4,6° South). Such a Geometry resulted in an image with the Sun, the NASA - Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Spacecraft, and the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) - Mars Laboratory - "Curiosityall aligned in an almost straight line (---> meaning with an extremely low Phase Angle - here, only 5,47°).

This specific Spatial Geometry was fit to hide the shadows, but it revealed very well (as it it will be better shown in tomorrow's EDM) some subtle color variations of the Surface. In this Absolute Natural Colors EDM, we can view the area around the Landing Site and Yellowknife Bay. The Mars Exploration Rover (MER) - Mars Laboratory - "Curiosity" is the very bright, white spot visible in the lower right quadrant of the frame, at about 5 o'clock. The Rover Tracks can be clearly and easily seen in this view, and also it is very well visible the Landing Site, where two (kind of elongated) dark-gray spots indicate the exact points where the Mars Science Laboratory's Landing Jets cleared off the orange Surface Dust.

The Mars Exploration Rover (MER) - Mars Laboratory - "Curiosity" is now driving South, towards the large Mound located inside Gale Crater - which is officially named Aeolis Mons but it is also commonly known as "Mount Sharp."

Mars Local Time: 14:21 (Early Afternoon)
Coord. (centered): 4,626° South Lat. and 137,453° East Long.
Spacecraft altitude: 307,6 Km (such as about 191,019 miles)
Original image scale range: 30,8 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binningso objects ~ 92 cm across are resolved
Map projected scale: 25 cm/pixel
Emission Angle: 29,9°
Phase Angle: 5,5°
Solar Incidence Angle: 35° (meaning that the Sun was about 55° above the Local Horizon at the time the picture was taken)
Solar Longitude: 342,7° (Northern Winter - Southern Summer)
Credits: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
Additional process. and coloring: Lunar Explorer Italia

This picture (which is a NASA - Original Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Enhanced Colors and NON-Map Projected sub-frame identified by the serial n. ESP_032436_1755-1) has been additionally processed, magnified, contrast enhanced 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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