Astronomy Picture of the Day
July 6, 2014

Hills at Protonilus Mensae
Hills at Protonilus Mensae

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, 17th, 2014, and during its 54.746th orbit around the Red Planet, we can see a few Hills and Buttes which are part of a relatively small area, known as Protonilus Mensae, and located in the Ismenius Lacus Quadrangle of Mars. Protonilus Mensae is centered on the Coordinates of 43,86° North Latitude and 49,4° East Longitude. In fact, Protonilus Mensae lies between two other interesting Martian Regions known, respectively, as Deuteronilus and Nilosyrtis Mensae; just out of curiosity, you should know that all these Mensae lie along the so-called "Martian Dichotomy Boundary" (which is an Area that is found in between the rugged Southern Highlands and the relatively smooth Northern Lowlands of Mars).

The surface of Protonilus Mensae is described as "Fretted Terrain", and this kind of Terrain contains, among many other FeaturesCliffs, Mesas, and wide, flat Valleys. It as to be said that, according to several Planetary Scientists, all these aforementioned Surface Features could have been created by "Debris-covered ancient Glaciers"). However, no substantial (and final) proof of the validity od such a Theory has been found yet. 

Last, but not least, Protonilus Mensae is located on the Northern Margin of the vast Martian Region known as Terra Sabaea (a large Region of Mars that covers approx. 4.700 Km - such as about 2.918,7 miles - at its broadest extent). Terra Sabaea was so officially named in the AD 1979 by the International Astronomical Union (or "IAU", for short), after - we, as IPF, would like to say "as usual"... - years of pointless discussions and according to a so-called "Classic Albedo Feature" of the Red Planet.

Latitude (centered): 45,7125° North
Longitude (centered): 53,6208°
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 18500) 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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