Astronomy Picture of the Day
October 15, 2015

Unnamed Craters in Meridiani Planum
Unnamed Craters in Meridiani Planum

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

In this beautiful VIS image, taken by the NASA - Mars Odyssey Orbiter on May, 17h, 2003, and during its 6.304th orbit around the Red Planet, we can see a small part of the Flat Terrain located in the Northern Portion of the Martian Region known as Meridiani Planum. This area lies about 300 Km (such as about 186,3 miles) North of where the Mars Exploration Rover - MER - "Opportunity" is currently exploring the Rim Rocks of Endeavour Crater.

Meridiani Planum is a large expanse (---> Plain) of Sedimentary Rock, mostly flat-lying Basalt Sandstone with Hematite Nodules (the so-called "Blueberries") embedded in it. Farther South from this scene, the Mars Exploration Rover - MER - "Opportunity" has already examined several Impact Craters like these two, that expose deeper Rock Layers. They show that the Meridiani Planum Sandstone is made of Dune Sands that were soaked in Sulfur-rich Water.

Flat Terrain may make for dull (---> not fascinating, boring) scenery (---> Landscape), but the driving is (always relatively speaking) easy. This area is where the fictional (but now Worldwide well known) Astronaut Mark Watney turns his vehicle to the East, toward Schiaparelli Crater. Before arriving here, he was driving South to get out from under a Dust Storm that threatened to shut off power to the vehicle's Solar Cells. At this point he has journeyed about 2300 Km (such as approx. 1428,3 miles) from Acidalia Planitia.

Latitude (centered): 2,51711° North
Longitude (centered): 355,15400° 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 19798) 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 normal 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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