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Martian Highlands at Night in Infrared
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Martian Highlands at Night in Infrared

October 12, 2009
This nighttime temperature image from the camera system on NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft shows the ancient, heavily cratered surface of the highlands between Isidis and Elysium Planitia. The image is entered near 9 degrees north latitude, 109 degrees east longitude, and covers an area approximately 32 kilometers (20 miles) wide by 120 kilometers (75 miles) long. The bright "splashes" extending outward from the three large craters are the remnants of the rocky material thrown out when the impact occurred. The nighttime temperature differences are due primarily to differences in the abundance of rocky materials that retain their heat at night and stay relatively warm. Fine grained dust and sand cool off more rapidly at night. The circular rims of the craters in this region are warm at night, showing that rocks are still present on the steep walls inside the craters. The "splash" ejecta patterns are also warmer than their surroundings, and are covered by material that was blasted out when the craters formed. The temperatures in this scene vary from approximately -105 degrees Celsius (-157 degrees Fahrenheit) (darkest) to -75 degrees Celsius (-103 degrees Fahrenheit) (lightest). This image was acquired using the instrument's infrared Band 9, centered at 12.6 micrometers. North is toward the left in this image.

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the 2001 Mars Odyssey mission for NASA's Office of Space Science in Washington, D.C. Investigators at Arizona State University in Tempe, the University of Arizona in Tucson and NASA's Johnson Space Center, Houston, operate the science instruments. Additional science partners are located at the Russian Aviation and Space Agency and at Los Alamos National Laboratories, New Mexico. Lockheed Martin Astronautics, Denver, is the prime contractor for the project, and developed and built the orbiter. Mission operations are conducted jointly from Lockheed Martin and from JPL.


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