Colorful Rocks in the Central Peaks of Ritchey Crater
Colorful Rocks in the Central Peaks of Ritchey Crater
PSP_005372_1515  Science Theme: Future Exploration/Landing Sites
Central peaks form when a large impact crater rebounds after the initial compression stage, lifting deep bedrock up into hills or mountains. Ritchey Crater is a large (more than 100 kilometer diameter), well-preserved impact crater in the southern highlands of Mars, south of Valles Marineris.

This HiRISE color image reveals a rich diversity of colors and textures in the central region of the crater. For example, the subimage shows several densely fractured outcrops of bedrock with a range of colors due to different rock types, partially covered by dark sand dunes.

In the middle of the area is medium-dark material that contains many bright rock fragments—perhaps breccia (broken up and randomly jumbled rocks). There are raised ridges—both straight and sinuous—which may mark fractures and channels that could have been indurated (hardened) by water-deposited minerals. The heat of the impact event could have driven hydrothermal circulation of water for many centuries.

The colors in this image are from the infrared, red, and blue-green filters, in which each color band is given a separate contrast stretch. In the subimage the colors were further enhanced in intensity to reveal more subtle variations. If a rover could land here, it would be able to study a treasure trove of diverse rocks and minerals and ancient environments.

Written by: Alfred McEwen  (10 October 2007)

This is a stereo pair with PSP_006005_1515.
Acquisition date
19 September 2007

Local Mars time

Latitude (centered)

Longitude (East)

Spacecraft altitude
255.7 km (158.9 miles)

Original image scale range
26.0 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) so objects ~78 cm across are resolved

Map projected scale
25 cm/pixel and North is up

Map projection

Emission angle

Phase angle

Solar incidence angle
34°, with the Sun about 56° above the horizon

Solar longitude
316.3°, Northern Winter

For non-map projected images
North azimuth:  96°
Sub-solar azimuth:  17.4°
Black and white
map projected  non-map

IRB color
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Merged IRB
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Merged RGB
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RGB color
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Black and white
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IRB color
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Black and white
map-projected  (773MB)
non-map           (939MB)

IRB color
map projected  (357MB)
non-map           (706MB)

Merged IRB
map projected  (367MB)

Merged RGB
map-projected  (369MB)

RGB color
non map           (675MB)
Map-projected, reduced-resolution
Full resolution JP2 download
Anaglyph details page

DTM details page

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’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.