Astronomy Picture of the Day
December 21, 2015

Features of Hephaestus Fossae
Features of Hephaestus Fossae

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

In this really suggestive VIS image, taken by the NASA - Mars Odyssey Orbiter on October, 23rd 2015, and during its 61.471st orbit around the Red Planet, we can see a small part of the Trough called Hephaestus Fossae. Located to the West of the huge Martian Volcano known as Elysium Mons, the Hephaestus Fossae are, basically, an extremely Complex System of Fractures, Troughs and Channels found in the Amenthes Quadrangle of Mars, and centered at 21,1° North Latitude and 237,5 West Longitude.

Hephaestus Fossae is approx. 604 Km (such as about 375,084 miles) long, and it was named after a so-called "Classical Albedo Feature". The Hephaestus Fossae have been - just tentatively and initially - identified as Outflow Channels, but their origin and evolution remain still ambiguous. It has been also proposed that Water might have been released into the Fractures, Troughs and Channels forming the Fossae as a consequence of a - litterally - Catastrophic Flood, probably due to Sub-Surface Ice Melting (and here we are talking about a truly large amount of Ice!), following either a powerful Impact occurred nearby (perhaps a Comet or, also, a medium-sized Asteroid), or - and this is our opinion, as IPF - an extremely violent - probably series of - Volcanic (and then even Seismic) Events.

Latitude (centered): 17,3473° North
Longitude (centered): 126,8040° 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 20116) has been additionally processed, magnified to aid the visibility of the details, extra-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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