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TODAY’S THEMIS IMAGE: Low Sun angle over the northern plains:

This image of the northern plains of Mars shows a surface texture of hundreds of small mounds and numerous small impact craters. The THEMIS imaging team is taking advantage of the late afternoon sun illumination to image places like this where the surface may contain small scale features that are “washed-out” by higher illumination angles. As the sun dips towards the horizon (to the left side of the image), shadows are cast. The length of the shadows can be used to estimate the height of the feature casting them – or the depth of the crater that contains the shadow. In this image the craters – even very small ones – are now partially filled by shadow making it very easy to identify them. The small bumps are not casting shadows yet, but are easily seen. These small bumps were not easily identified when the sun angle was higher (earlier in the afternoon). As this image shows, late afternoon sun illumination is wonderful for making small scale morphologic features visible.

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