Astronomy Picture of the Day
February 10, 2014

After the Sunset - Sol 529
After the Sunset - Sol 529

Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/TAMU and Dr Paolo C. Fienga/LXTT/IPF for the additional process, and color.

This absolutely wonderful and fascinating view of the Twilight Sky and Martian Horizon, taken by NASA - Mars Exploration Rover (MER) - Mars Laboratory Curiosity about 80 minutes after Sunset, on the 529th Martian Day, or Sol, of the Rover's work on Mars (such as January 31, 2014)includes our Home Planet Earth, as the brightest point of light in the (now) very dark Martian Sky. Earth is located a little left of center in the frame, and our Moon - NOT visible at this resolution - is just below. The Mission Team used the Left (Sx) Eye Camera of Curiosity's Mast Camera (or "MastCam", for short) to capture this scene.


The image has been additionally processed to remove the effects related to the presence of Cosmic Rays (i.e.: white and short Light Streaks in the Sky).  A human observer, with normal (---> in the average) vision, if standing on Mars, could easily see both the Earth and Moon as two distinct, bright "Evening Star-like Objects." The distance between Earth and Mars, at the time when the NASA - Mars Exploration Rover (MER) - Mars Laboratory Curiosity took the photo, was about 99 Million Miles (such as approx. 159.324.660 Million KiloMeters). The dark red/orange diffuse light which characterizes the Horizon of Gale Crater is caused by the reflection of the Sunlight on the Dust and Ice-Particles which can be found at very high altitudes of the Martian Atmosphere (lin other words - and just like the NASA Scientists said in the past - the presence of Microscopic Particles of Water Ice and Dust in the Upper Atmosphere of Mars is fit to reflect and diffuse the incoming, late Sunlight and then make the Martian Sky really bright (and colorful!) up to even 2 (two) hours after the Sunset - as seen and measured on/in a certain - given - Local Horizon).


This picture (which is an Original NASA - Mars Exploration Rover (MER) - Mars Laboratory - "Curiosity" b/w image published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal and identified by the ID n. PIA 17936) has been additionally processed, magnified in order to aid the Viewers to catch the details, in size, Gamma corrected and then colorized in Absolute Natural Colors (such as the colors that a normal - meaning "in the average" - human eye would actually perceive if someone were on the Surface of Mars, near the NASA - Mars Exploration Rover (MER) - Mars Laboratory Curiosity, and then looked ahead, towards the Rim of Gale Crater and the Sky above it), by using an original technique created - and, in time, dramatically improved - by the Lunar Explorer Italia Team.



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