Astronomy Picture of the Day
February 16, 2014

Wind Tracks in Utopia Planitia
Wind Tracks in Utopia Planitia

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

In this VIS image, taken by the NASA - Mars Odyssey Orbiter on January, 2nd, 2014, and during its 53.465th orbit around the Red Planet, we can take a look at yet another portion of the Martian Northern Region known as Utopia Planitia, which is - litterally - covered by hundreds of Dust Devil Tracks, such as one of the most common Aeolian Surface Features (jointly with the so-called Yardangs and Windstreaks) that can still be found almost everywhere on the Martian Surface. The presence of these and other kinds of Aeolian Surface Feature proves, beyond any reasonable doubt, that the Atmosphere of the Red Planet is, even at present day, very active and somehow restless - particularly in a few specific Regions of Mars and during certain - and even relatively long - periods of the Martian Year.

Last, but not least - and just out of curiosity - a few extremely old, eroded and just partially exhumed (even in this case, and most likely, by a constant and powerful Wind Action) Impact Craters (all of relatively small dimensions, with very dark Rims, and located on a slightly elevated area - as to their surroundings), can easily be seen in the Northen (Upper) portion of the frame.

Latitude (centered): 53,1584° North
Longitude (centered): 86,4929° East
Instrument: VIS

This image (which is an Original Mars Odyssey Orbiter b/w and Map-Projected frame published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 17966) has been additionally processed, magnified to aid the visibility of the details, 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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