Astronomy Picture of the Day
June 26, 2014

Olympica Fossae and Surroundings
Olympica Fossae and Surroundings

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 April, 10th, 2014, and during its 54.658th orbit around the Red Planet, we can see, at the very top of the frame, a small portion of a large and long Volcanic Channel (or also a "Trough") known as Olympica Fossae

Olympica Fossae, in fact, is a Complex Volcanic Surface Feature located in the Tharsis Quadrangle of Mars, at about 25° North Latitude and 114,1° West Longitude. It is about 420 Km (such as approx. 260,82 miles) long and it was so named after a so-called "Classical Albedo Feature". According to an interesting theory (unfortunately, not fully verifiable, at this time, given the poor amount of data that we possess about this Region), some parts of the Olympica Fossae might have (better yet: possess, or even share) a "Double Nature": this means, in other words, that some portions of this fascinating Complex Volcanic Feature might be true Outflow Channels (---> Channels that were carved/created by the occurrence of catastrophic Outburst Floods of Water) while, on the other hand, some portions of it, could be made of "pure" Volcanic Channels, such as Channels carved by flowing (---> and therefore very/estremely fluid) Lava, that routed (---> carried away with it) Molten Rocks and other debris.

Of course, if such a "Double Nature" of Olympica Fossae were, sometimes in the future, confirmed, we should also assume that these two events which created it (as well as the whole System of smaller Channels which characterizes it) , must have occurred in very different (and distant, in terms of time, from each other) periods of the Geological History of Mars.

Latitude (centered): 24,5997° North
Longitude (centered): 246,7380° 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 18491) has been additionally processed, magnified to aid the visibility of the details, contrast enhanced and sharpened, 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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