Astronomy Picture of the Day
February 26, 2014

Morning Daylights over The Great Valles Marineris Canyon System
Morning Daylights over The Great Valles Marineris Canyon System

Credits: NASA/JPL - Viking 1 Project - Credits for the additional process. and color.: Dr Paolo C. Fienga/LXTT/IPF

As of today, February, 26th, 2014, no NASA-made Martian Orbiter has been in a really excellent position to observe the so-called "Morning Daylights" (a moment of the Martian Day which is also known as "Daybreak Time") on Mars, since the "twin" NASA - Viking Orbiters in the middle/late '70s.

This image, taken by the NASA - Viking Orbiter One on August, 17, 1976, shows us a number of white and bright Water-Ice Stratiform Clouds shining over the Great Valles Marineris Canyon System (such as an Equatorial and Peri-Equatorial Complex Region of Mars) just during the Local (Early) Morning Time. North is towards the upper left of the frame, and the scene is about 600 miles (such as approx. 965,6 Km) across.

Although a few observations of Mars during the Morning Daylights have come from the Viking Orbiters and the European Space Agency's Mars Express Orbiter, no mission has systematically studied how a few s.c. "Morning Features" (such as Clouds, Fogs and Surface Frost) develop, both in different Martian Seasons as well as in different Regions of the Red Planet; however, the NASA - Mars Odyssey Orbiter, during the year 2014, shall start the process of changing its Orbital Path, so to be able to begin a systematic recording of the aforementioned Morning Daylight Observations.

This frame (which is an Original NASA - Viking Orbiter One b/w frame published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 17940) has been additionally processed, contrast enhanced, magnified to aid visibility of the Surface details and then colorized in Absolute Natural Colors (such as the colors that a human eye would actually perceive if someone were onboard the NASA - Viking One Orbiter and then looked outside, towards the Surface of Mars), by using an original technique created - and, in time, dramatically improved - by the Lunar Explorer Italia Team. Different colors, as well as different shades of the same color, mean, among others, the existence of different Elements present on the Surface of Mars, each having a different Albedo (---> Reflectivity) and Chemical Composition.

Note: it is possible (but we, as IPF, have no way to be one-hundred-percent sure of such a circumstance), that the actual luminosity of the Surface of Mars at the Daybreak Hours - as it is in this frame - would appear, to an average human eye, way lower than it has been shown (or, better yet: interpreted) here.

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