Astronomy Picture of the Day
September 10, 2013

Features of Mangala Valles
Features of Mangala Valles

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

In this VIS image, taken by the NASA - Mars Odyssey Orbiter on July 1st, 2013, and during its 51.226th orbit around the Red Planet, we can see a small portion of the Channel known as Mangala Valles (a Complex System of Criss-Crossing Channels, located in the Tharsis Region and it might have originated in the Amazonian Epoch of Mars). Mangala Valles is also thought to be a so-called "Outflow Channel", such as a Channel that was carved by the occurrence of catastrophic Floods and THE subsequent release of extremely large quantities of Water, all across the Martian Surface.

This Floods were probably triggered by the occurrence of Tectonic Stretching and the formation of a Graben at the Channels' "Head", perhaps breaching a pressurized Aquifer trapped beneath a relatively thick "Cryosphere" (---> a Layer of Frozen Ground) that was located somewhere beneath the Surface. Mangala Valles contains several Basins which were filled by its Waters; but some time afterwards (probably ceturies or even millennia), the Overflow went through a series of Spillways (---> a series of Natural Drainage Channels) which, in (a probably VERY long time, contributed to the drying of the Main Channel.

One source of the Waters for the Mangala Valles Channels' System was, probably, located in Memonia Fossae, but more Water also probably came from a large (and distant) Impact Basin located way down South. Inside Mangala Valles's Riverbeds there are, as you can see, for instance, in this picture, several Streamlined Islands; furthermore, many Wind-sculpted Ridges (also known as "Yardangs") - which cover a large amount of the Surface near and around the Mangala Valles Channels' System - can also be found.

Just out of curiosity, the name "Mangala" comes from Sanskrit and it means - let's say quite obviously -, Mars.

Latitude (centered): 14,536° South
Longitude (centered): 209,862° East
Instrument: VIS

This frame (which is an Original Mars Odyssey Orbiter b/w frame published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 17430) has been additionally processed, magnified, contrast enhanced, Gamma corrected 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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