The Strange Terrain of the Descartes Highlands

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Apollo 16’s Orion landed (after about six hours) in what was named the Descartes Highlands, a bumpy region north of Descartes crater, featuring the Cayley formation, overlapping plains once created by volcanic flow. Descartes crater is an ancient impact crater, so collapsed and worn, that over time it has become more of a bumpy mountainous region. The Apollo 16 panoramic frames AS16-P-4558, AS16-P-4559, and AS16-P-4560 were taken between Descartes Crater and the Apollo 16 landing site 50 km north in the Descartes Highlands.

These panoramic frames in particular are littered with strange and unique topography. There are groups of what appear to be structural complexes and smaller unique formations present which generally don’t match the standard topographical model local to the region. I have processed some examples below from the NASA/JSC/ASU raw tif tiles.

Below, from AS16-P-4558, of Descartes Crater, a winding row of ascending levels with some strange formations on the embankment.

 AS16 P 4558 0004 1

(Cropped from AS16-P-4558, processed from the NASA/JSC/Arizona State University raw tif tile 4.)

One of the unusual formations enlarged below. Whether it is a geologic formation or an ariftical construct, its form appears to be exotic.

 AS16 P 4558 0004 2

(Cropped from AS16-P-4558, processed from the NASA/JSC/Arizona State University raw tif tile 4.)

Below, an enlargement of what appears to be a structure (center) just under the embankment edge. There also appears to be smaller structures on top and a “bridge” or "ramp" connecting to it. The structure has dark square markings along the side, resembling hanger entrances.

 AS16 P 4558 0004 3

(Cropped from AS16-P-4558, processed from the NASA/JSC/Arizona State University raw tif tile 4.)

The image below is from AS16-P-4559, just east of Descartes in the highlands. The highland rise appears to be one complex of solid structure.

AS16 P 4559 0002 4

(Cropped from AS16-P-4559, processed from the NASA/JSC/Arizona State University raw tif tile 2.)

Below, enlarged examples from the image above.

 AS16 P 4559 0002 5

(Cropped from AS16-P-4559, processed from the NASA/JSC/Arizona State University raw tif tile 2.)

 AS16 P 4559 0002 6

(Cropped from AS16-P-4559, processed from the NASA/JSC/Arizona State University raw tif tile 2.)

Also from AS16-P-4559, two sections that resemble the topography of city blocks. A blemish artifact is also present (below).

AS16 P 4559 0002 7

(Crop fromrom AS16-P-4558, processed from the NASA/JSC/Arizona State University raw tif tile 4.)

The images below are from AS16-P-4560, close to the Apollo 16 landing site in the Descartes highlands. They show a series of unique formations and apparent structures.

 AS16 P 4560 0005 8

(Cropped from AS16-P-4560, processed from the NASA/JSC/Arizona State University raw tif tile 5.)

 AS16 P 4560 0005 9

(Cropped from AS16-P-4560, processed from the NASA/JSC/Arizona State University raw tif tile 5.)

Below, two roughly opposing triangular patches of structure with a center plain.

 AS16 P 4560 0005 10

(Cropped from AS16-P-4560, processed from the NASA/JSC/Arizona State University raw tif tile 3.)

Enlarged from above.

 AS16 P 4560 0005 11

(Cropped from AS16-P-4560, processed from the NASA/JSC/Arizona State University raw tif tile 3.)

 AS16 P 4560 0005 23

(Cropped from AS16-P-4560, processed from the NASA/JSC/Arizona State University raw tif tile 3.)

Other relevant links:

http://www.lpi.usra.edu/lunar/missions/apollo/apollo_16/landing_site/

http://pubs.usgs.gov/imap/0748/plate-1.pdf

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YouTube User:  WhatsUpInTheSky37 

Thank you to Todd who is one of our forum moderators at http://www.whatsupinthesky.com for sharing this one in the forum.  I am sure others have found this before although NASA sure did hide it well in the Black and White footage on their website.  Making it harder for the public to see things like that if it wasn't for people like Todd and oh so many more going through the 100 percent lossless files as well as the 8 bit versions of them that come directly from the rover.   It takes us six months to between PDS dumps which often have older images on them as well.   So let me know what you think below?  Artifact or Natural?  My mind isn't made up on this one yet!

NASA Link:  https://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/01555/mcam/1555MR0079850020800153C00_DXXX.jpg

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