Astronomy Picture of the Day
March 15, 2014

Springtime on the Northern Dunes (EDM)
Springtime on the Northern Dunes (EDM)

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

In this Extra Detail Magnification (or "EDM", for short) of a sub-frame taken by the NASA - Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on January, 16, 2014, we can see the Martian’s Northernmost Sand Dunes that 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.

In a few spots of the picture, the pink-orangish color the Martian Surface - once the Ice and Frost are gone - has already started to appear, while the Dark "Splotches" (VERY well visible in this 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 False Colors and NON Map-Projected sub-frame identified by the serial n. ESP_035033_2635-1) 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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