Astronomy Picture of the Day
May 25, 2015

Appraoching a 'Geological Contact Area' - Sol 981
Appraoching a 'Geological Contact Area' - Sol 981

Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS and Dr Paolo C. Fienga/LXTT/IPF for the additional process and color.

This beautiful image-mosaic, which was obtained by putting together several (actually 14 or 15) individual frames taken by the NASA - Mars Curiosity Rover and Laboratory's Mast Camera (or "MastCam", for short) shows Terrain that has been judged VERY difficult for the Rover to cross (---> go through) in order to reach an Outcrop located in the middle distance where a pale Rock Unit meets a darker Rock Unit above it. The MastCam's Left-Eye captured the component images of this mosaic on May 10, 2015 (on Earth), such as during the 981st Martian Day, or Sol, of the NASA - Mars Curiosity Rover and Laboratory's work on Mars.

However, this observation helped the Rover Team to evaluate the best routes for driving to the abovementioned Geological Contact Area where the two Rock Units meet. The Outcrop exposing the Contact is in the Eastern portion of the "Logan Pass" Area. The windblown Ripples, as well as the steep Ground where the Ripples are lacking, are both poor (---> bad) Terrains for the Rover to cross. The Team, subsequently, chose to approach a different Site where the pale and darker Rock Units are in contact with each other. That alternative Site is in the Northern portion of the Logan Pass Area, outside of this scene.  This Panorama spans from the East, at left (Sx), to the South-South/West (Dx). Mount Sharp is very well visible on the left (Sx) portion of the mosaic, and the Rover is still (relatively) far away from it.

This picture (which is an Original and White-Balanced Image-Mosaic obtained by the NASA - Mars Curiosity Rover and Laboratory on May, 10, 2015, and identified, on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal, by the ID n. PIA-19662) has been additionally processed, reduced in size to fit the page, Gamma corrected and then colorized in Absolute Natural Colors (such as the colors that a normal - in the average - human eye would actually perceive if someone were on the Surface of Mars, near the NASA - Mars Curiosity Rover and Laboratory, and then looked ahead, towards the Horizon and Sky above Gale Crater), by using an original technique created - and, in time, dramatically improved - by the Lunar Explorer Italia Team.

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