Layers, Bedrock Ridges, and Dark Sand in Schiaparelli Crater
NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
Layers, Bedrock Ridges, and Dark Sand in Schiaparelli Crater
ESP_032836_1790  Science Theme: Aeolian Processes
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Like any diverse group of explorers, scientists on the HiRISE team and the general public who submit target suggestions have different goals and interests for the Mars images they hope to get. More often than not, an image intended for one particular science investigation ends up having many other applications, answering and raising new questions.

This image was targeted to look at potential changes in the distribution of dark sand compared to earlier pictures (PSP_005897_1790 three Mars years ago and ESP_016406_1790/ESP_017118_1790, approximately 1.5 Mars years ago). In a preliminary investigation, no such changes have been found, although we will keep looking.

Originally, this area—a crater within the larger Schiaparelli Crater—was targeted to investigate the circumferential layers that fill the crater, evidence for possible past deposition from airfall dust or even water. In this image, we note something that becomes apparent if we zoom in to many of the areas containing dark sand. Here, the sand is on top of periodic bedrock edges oriented semi-radially from the crater and approximately perpendicular to the layers. How did these ridges form, and what is the relationship to the sand?

The ridge origin is a mystery, but the sand may simply be nucleating on the ridges. This suggests that some apparent large ripples on Mars are sand nucleation sites on pre-existing topography. The extent of such ridges, and their relationship to sand elsewhere on the planet, can be further understood with future HiRISE images in other areas.

Written by: Nathan Bridges (audio by Tre Gibbs)   (12 September 2013)

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Acquisition date
29 July 2013

Local Mars time:

Latitude (centered)

Longitude (East)

Range to target site
268.2 km (167.6 miles)

Original image scale range
26.8 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) so objects ~80 cm across are resolved

Map projected scale
25 cm/pixel and North is up

Map projection

Emission angle:

Phase angle:

Solar incidence angle
35°, with the Sun about 55° above the horizon

Solar longitude
358.8°, Northern Winter

North azimuth:

Sub-solar azimuth:
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Black & white is 5 km across; enhanced color about 1 km
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All of the images produced by HiRISE and accessible on this site are within the public domain: there are no restrictions on their usage by anyone in the public, including news or science organizations. We do ask for a credit line where possible:
NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

For information about NASA and agency programs on the Web, visit: NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif., manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems is the prime contractor for the project and built the spacecraft. The HiRISE camera was built by Ball Aerospace and Technology Corporation and is operated by the University of Arizona. The image data were processed using the U.S. Geological Survey’s ISIS3 software.