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   Martian Opposition Effect

    Images NASA/JPL      

As the Mars Exploration Rover 'Opportunity' descended towards Meridiani Planum on Jan 24, 2004 its parachute cast a shadow on the arid Martian surface.

The large image (PIA05146) was taken from an altitude of only 1400m and shows an area about 1.2km (3/4 mile) across.

The parachute shadow is the dark circle to the left of the bright rimmed crater at far right. The moving shadow is marked in two of the inset pictures.

Surrounding the shadow is a bright area - an opposition effect caused by shadow hiding by Martian soil grains and backscattering effects.

This image is possibly the first showing an "Atmospheric Optics" effect on another planet. It was spotted by Hugo Landheer (site) of the Netherlands.