Astronomy Picture of the Day
November 10, 2013

Cones in Tartarus Montes (CTX Frame)
Cones in Tartarus Montes (CTX Frame)

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

Many types of Craters can be found on Mars, as well as on many other Celestial Bodies in the Solar System (particularly the ones which do not possess an Atmosphere at all or, like in the case of the Red Planet, just a very thin one). Most of them, as you should know very well by now, are usually created by the Impact of Meteors, Asteroids and Comets. However, even though what we just wrote is true and undisputable, in this specific area of Mars we think that these Craters may actually be the visible result of "Steam Explosions" (look at the very peculiar structure of the Edges - Rims - of these Crater-like Features to better understand the idea) and NOT Impacts. Assuming that the aformentioned hypothesis is correct, we wish to underline that this specific kind of physical phenomenon can also happen on our Home Planet Earth, when, for instance, some hot Lava flows over a very cold (or even Icy) Ground.

Another possibility, instead (and in our opinion, as IPF), is that these really peculiar Crater-like Surface Features might be the result of the verification of a phenomenon (which, most likely, is still occurring both on Mars as well as on quite a few moons orbiting around the so-called Gas-Giant Planets) known as Cryovolcanism (also known as "Cold-Volcanism", such as an eruption - usually very sudden and violent - of Gases, Mud and other - litterally - "Cold Elements" - Ice, Gravel and medium-sized Rocks included).

Mars Local Time: 14:22 (Early Afternoon)
Coord. (centered): 26,538° North Lat. and 171,728° East Long.
Spacecraft altitude: 291,5 Km (such as about 181,021 miles)
Original image scale range: 58,3 cm/pixel (with 2 x 2 binningso objects ~ 1 mt and 75 cm across are resolved
Map projected scale: 50 cm/pixel
Emission Angle: 4,8°
Phase Angle: 44,2°
Solar Incidence Angle: 40° (meaning that the Sun was about 50° above the Local Horizon at the time the picture was taken)
Solar Longitude: 14,6° (Northern Spring - Southern Fall)
Credits: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
Additional process. and coloring: Lunar Explorer Italia

This picture (which is a NASA - Original Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter False Colors and NON-Map Projected Sub-frame identified by the serial n. ESP_033252_2070-1) has been additionally processed, magnified, contrast enhanced, Gamma corrected, 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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