Astronomy:Galle (Martian crater)

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Short description: Crater on Mars, also known as the "happy face crater"
Photographed by the Mars Global Surveyor, 1999-03-10
CoordinatesCoordinates: 51°12′S 30°54′W / 51.2°S 30.9°W / -51.2; -30.9
Diameter230.0 km

Galle is a crater on Mars. It is located on the eastern rim of the huge impact basin Argyre Planitia in Argyre quadrangle. It is named after the German astronomer Johann Gottfried Galle.[1] Galle is often known as the "happy face crater" because pareidolia causes a curved mountain range in the southern part of the crater and two smaller mountain clusters further north to appear to be a smiley face. The formation was first photographed by Viking Orbiter 1.

A second "happy face crater", smaller than Galle and located at 45.1°S, 55.0°W in Nereidum Montes, was discovered by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on January 28, 2008.[2]

Appearance in Watchmen

As the smiley is a key motif in the comic book Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, the crater was used as a story location after the coincidence was noted by Gibbons. According to Gibbons, the similarity "was almost too good to be true. I worried that if we put it in, people would never believe it."[3] The crater also appears in the same scene during the film adaptation.


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