Astronomy Picture of the Day
March 28, 2014

Features of Tartarus Colles
Features of Tartarus Colles

Credits: NASA/JPL/Arizona State University (ASU) - Credits for the additional process. and color.: Dr Paolo C. Fienga/Lunar Explorer Italia/IPF

In this VIS image, taken by the NASA - Mars Odyssey Orbiter on January, 30th, 2014, and during its 53.811th orbit around the Red Planet, we can see a small portion of the Tartarus Colles Region. Several of the Hills and Knobs visible here show Dark Slope Streaks on their sides, which Planetary Scientists believe that they have formed by (relatively) small events of "Downslope Removal of Dust" (---> Dustslides): a phenomenon (probably caused by the continuous - or even sudden - action of very strong Winds, and/or by Gravity Wasting) that allowed the darker Rock existing beneath the Dust to reveal itself.

Another possibility, however, is that the Dark Slope Streaks could be the evidence of another - and very interesting and intriguing - phenomenon, known as "Seepage" (such as the slow escape of a Liquid - which would be Water, in this case - through porous material or small holes located on the Flanks of the Hills and Knobs).

Latitude (centered): 26,2606° North
Longitude (centered): 186,4210° 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 18127) 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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