Layered Crater on Mars

July 18, 2007
Layers Exposed in Crater Near Mawrth Vallis
Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Univ. of Arizona

This image covers an impact crater roughly 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) in diameter. The subimage shows just a small segment of the crater rim (1336 x 889; 3 MB).

The surface outside the crater (top) is relatively dark, while the interior wall of the crater has a lighter tone. A few dark patches on the crater wall have small dunes or ripples on their surfaces, and are likely pits filled with dark sand.

The light-toned material making up the crater wall is finely layered and fractured in places. The layers may be part of a sedimentary or volcanic ash deposit that became indurated (cemented and solidified) prior to the impact that formed the crater. The impact has revealed layers that were previously buried beneath the Martian surface, similar to the craters explored by the Opportunity rover in Meridiani Planum. These craters are windows into the Martian subsurface.

Just 30 kilometers (20 miles) to the east of this crater lies Mawrth Vallis, an ancient outflow channel that may have been carved by catastrophic floods. The orbiting spectrometers OMEGA (on Mars Express) and CRISM (on MRO) have detected clay minerals in layered deposits in and around Mawrth Vallis. These minerals, which require water to form, are likely present in the layered bedrock exposed in this crater wall. The crater may thus provide a glimpse into an intriguing period of Martian history, when liquid water may have been more abundant at or near the Martian surface than it is today.

Source: NASA

Explore further: Curiosity discovers Mars rock like none before, sets drill campaign

Related Stories

Layers in a Mars Crater Record a History of Changes

February 11, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Near the center of a Martian crater about the size of Connecticut, hundreds of exposed rock layers form a mound as tall as the Rockies and reveal a record of major environmental changes on Mars billions of ...

What is lunar regolith?

May 29, 2015

When you're walking around on soft ground, do you notice how your feet leave impressions? Perhaps you've tracked some of the looser earth in your yard into the house on occasion? If you were to pick up some of these traces ...

Impact crater or supervolcano caldera?

May 21, 2015

At first glance, the region covered by this latest Mars Express image release appears to be pockmarked with impact craters. But the largest structure among them may hold a rather explosive secret: it could be remains of an ...

Recommended for you

New Horizons team selects potential Kuiper Belt flyby target

August 29, 2015

NASA has selected the potential next destination for the New Horizons mission to visit after its historic July 14 flyby of the Pluto system. The destination is a small Kuiper Belt object (KBO) known as 2014 MU69 that orbits ...

Ceres image: The lonely mountain

August 25, 2015

NASA's Dawn spacecraft spotted this tall, conical mountain on Ceres from a distance of 915 miles (1,470 kilometers).

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.