Astronomy Picture of the Day
March 14, 2014

Springtime on the Northern Dunes (CTX Frame)
Springtime on the Northern Dunes (CTX Frame)

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

In this picture, taken by the NASA - Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on January, 16, 2014, the Martian’s Northernmost Sand Dunes are beginning to emerge (---> come out) from their Winter cover of Seasonal Water and Carbon Dioxide (CO2, or Dry) Ice. Their dark, bare South-facing Slopes are soaking up the warmth of the Sun and the Steep Lee (---> Wind-protected) Sides of the Dunes themselves are also Ice-free along their Crests, thus allowing the Sand Grains to slide down of them.

The Dark "Splotches" (which shall be better visible in tomorrow's EDM) on the Dunes, are places where the Ice cracked earlier in Spring, and so released (---> allowed the fall of) the aformentioned Sand Grains. Soon (probably in a month or two) the Dunes will be completely bare (---> "naked", such as totally Ice and/or Frost-free) and all signs of the Spring's Thawing Activities will be gone, once again.

Mars Local Time: 13:29 (Early Afternoon)
Coord. (centered): 83,480° North Lat. and 118,570° East Long.
Spacecraft altitude: 320,8 Km (such as about 199,2168 miles)
Original image scale range: 64,2 cm/pixel (with 2 x 2 binningso objects ~ 1 mt and 93 cm across are resolved
Map projected scale: 50 cm/pixel
Emission Angle: 2,4°
Phase Angle: 61,4°
Solar Incidence Angle: 60° (meaning that the Sun was about 30° above the Local Horizon at the time the picture was taken)
Solar Longitude: 76,9° (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 b/w and Map Projected Contextual frame identified by the serial n. ESP_035033_2635) 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 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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