Astronomy Picture of the Day
July 16, 2014

North Polar Dunes and Dunefields (Part I)
North Polar Dunes and Dunefields (Part I)

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, 22nd, 2014, and during its 54.806th orbit around the Red Planet, we can see another small portion of the North Polar Erg, with a quite large buried Impact Crater (located at about the center of the frame) and the usual, for this Region, Dunes and Dunefields.

If you compare multiple images showing both isolated Dunes and large Dunefields, you will be able to see that the Dunes can take very different forms and cover different amounts of the Plains. These differences are caused by many factors including - but not limited to - the amount of available Sand and Dust, the force and direction of the Winds, and the Topography of the underlying Plains. The "whitish" areas (visible in the central and lower portion of the frame) are, most likely, still covered by a very thin layer of Residual Frost.

Last, but not least, if you look VERY carefully at this picture, an extremely interesting, bright and unusually-looking Surface Feature (that we shall better show you in tomorrow's Extra Detail Magnification - or "EDM", for short), can already be spotted, very close to the upper margin of the Landscape, near the right (Dx) corner.

Latitude (centered): 77,9098° North
Longitude (centered): 109,2820° East
Instrument: VIS

This image (which is a crop taken from an Original Mars Odyssey Orbiter b/w and Map-Projected frame published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 18505) 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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