Galle (Martian crater)

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Photographed by the Mars Global Surveyor, 1999-03-10
Planet Mars
Coordinates 51°12′S 30°54′W / 51.2°S 30.9°W / -51.2; -30.9Coordinates: 51°12′S 30°54′W / 51.2°S 30.9°W / -51.2; -30.9
Diameter 230.0 km
Eponym Johann Gottfried Galle

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 astronomer Johann Gottfried Galle. 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.[1]

Other nearby features include prominent craters such the smaller Wirtz to the northeast, Kamloops nearly to the south and the ghost crater Oodnadatta to the southwest, nearly further northwest is the tiny Jezža, other features include Pallacopas Vallis further southeast, Nia Vallis to the southwest and Horarum Mons due west of the rim.

Near the southern rim is a layered mound which features a layered mound, parts of that mound has polygons. Dunes are founded in portions of the crater. As to other major craters in that portion of the planet, gullies are founded mostly on its crater rim, some are founded on mounds and dunes. Old glacial flows are also founded in the crater.

Appearance in Watchmen[edit]

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."[2] The crater also appears in the same scene during the film adaptation.


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