The Tale of a Retreating Scarp
The Tale of a Retreating Scarp
ESP_075230_1235  Science Theme: Mass Wasting Processes
This scene on the north rim of Secchi Crater shows a curious depression with zig-zag walls. Some of the linear ridges on the floor of this feature are aligned with them.

In some places on Mars, the dust and dirt is mixed with ice that covers a rocky surface. When the Sun shines, the ice can sublimate (turn directly into a vapor) and the dust and dirt collapse. This can form pits and depressions with a linear wall that is frequently parallel to the equator, and that wall “retreats” towards the equator.

This retreat most likely started at the southern end and grew to a stable width. At some point it became wider, stopped, and then grew wider again. Linear ridges on the floor that parallel the top edge are deposits that show where the wall stopped during its long retreat northwards.

There is also one long ridge that parallels the eastern wall. Researchers think that the area east of the ridge formed after the main depression. It again started at the south and mostly had a fixed width as its north wall retreated in that direction. The ridge is a remainder of the original east wall.

Written by: Ross Beyer (narration: Tre Gibbs)  (20 October 2022)

This is a stereo pair with ESP_075309_1235.
Acquisition date
14 August 2022

Local Mars time

Latitude (centered)

Longitude (East)

Spacecraft altitude
249.2 km (154.9 miles)

Original image scale range
24.9 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) so objects ~75 cm across are resolved

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25 cm/pixel and North is up

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Solar incidence angle
46°, with the Sun about 44° above the horizon

Solar longitude
285.0°, Northern Winter

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North azimuth:  98°
Sub-solar azimuth:  31.9°
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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. The HiRISE camera was built by Ball Aerospace and Technology Corporation and is operated by the University of Arizona.