Dissected Mantled Terrain
NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
Dissected Mantled Terrain
PSP_002917_2175  Science Theme: Glacial/Periglacial Processes


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PDF, 11 x 17 in  
A northern mid-latitude scene consisting of craters, intercrater plains, and mantled material is visible in this HiRISE image.

The mantled material seen here covers much of the middle latitudes in both hemispheres of Mars; it has been visibly removed in some locations. It's called "mantled" because it looks as if it's just draped over, or mantling, the topography underneath.

The mantled material is what causes the craters to have a muted, softened appearance. It's thought to be ice-rich material deposited in a climate different from that of today.

The mantled unit is dissected here, meaning that is not pristine and has likely undergone modification since it was originally laid down. The intercrater plains have a pitted texture full resolution thought to be caused by water ice sublimating and leaving depressions behind.

Unlike that of Earth, the obliquity (tilt of the planet's rotation axis) of Mars changes wildly. Earth has the Moon to keep its axis stable, but Mars' satellites, Phobos and Deimos, are not massive enough to do the same.

Today Mars' obliquity (25.19 degrees) is similar to that of Earth's (23.45 degrees), but this has not always been the case. As the obliquity changes, the portions of Mars that receive the most sunlight shift. During periods of high obliquity, polar regions receive the most sunlight. This causes polar ices, including water ice and carbon dioxide ice, to sublimate (evaporate) into the atmosphere. They would then potentially be re-deposited in the mid-latitudes, similar to where this image is located. It is believed that this process is responsible for the mid-latitude mantled unit.

Written by: Kelly Kolb   (14 July 2010)

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Acquisition date
11 March 2007

Local Mars time:

Latitude (centered)

Longitude (East)

Range to target site
295.6 km (184.7 miles)

Original image scale range
29.6 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) so objects ~89 cm across are resolved

Map projected scale
25 cm/pixel and North is up

Map projection

Emission angle:

Phase angle:

Solar incidence angle
67°, with the Sun about 23° above the horizon

Solar longitude
198.5°, Northern Autumn

North azimuth:

Sub-solar azimuth:
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IRB color
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Merged IRB
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RGB color
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IRB color
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Black and white
map-projected  (596MB)
non-map           (684MB)

IRB color
map projected  (238MB)
non-map           (514MB)

Merged IRB
map projected  (320MB)

Merged RGB
map-projected  (327MB)

RGB color
non map           (479MB)
B&W label
Color label
Merged IRB label
Merged RGB label
EDR products

IRB: infrared-red-blue
RGB: red-green-blue
About color products (PDF)

Black & white is 5 km across; enhanced color about 1 km
For scale, use JPEG/JP2 black & white map-projected images

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: http://www.nasa.gov. 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.