Central Pit Crater
Central Pit Crater
PSP_005409_1530  Science Theme: Impact Processes
The full observation shows an unnamed central pit crater in the southern mid-latitudes. Impact craters have different morphologies depending on the size of the impactor and the properties of the target material.

Smaller impactors generate bowl-shaped craters, while very large impactors create craters with central peaks or central rings. It is currently unknown what causes central pits to form.

The central pit crater is not very fresh, as evidenced by a number of craters occurring within it. Recently, HiRISE had identified ponded and pitted material in several fresh craters around Mars that is undetectable in lower resolution images. The pits are thought to form from escaping volatiles (gases) that were caused by boiling ices present at the time of impact.

Although the central pit, located near the bottom of the image, has degraded over time, there are still some remnant pits that appear to have coalesced (joined, see subimage, approximately 1.5 kilometers across). It is possible that all central pit craters on Mars consist of coalesced, smaller pits.

Note: This caption refers to the full observation; the image above is actually a fresher, simple crater on top of the larger, older central pit crater.

Written by: Kelly Kolb  (9 January 2008)
Acquisition date
21 September 2007

Local Mars time

Latitude (centered)

Longitude (East)

Spacecraft altitude
257.9 km (160.3 miles)

Original image scale range
25.8 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) so objects ~77 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
317.9°, Northern Winter

For non-map projected images
North azimuth:  97°
Sub-solar azimuth:  15.5°
Black and white
map projected  non-map

IRB color
map projected  non-map

Merged IRB
map projected

Merged RGB
map projected

RGB color
non-map projected

Black and white
map-projected   (1390MB)

IRB color
map-projected   (638MB)

Black and white
map-projected  (706MB)
non-map           (858MB)

IRB color
map projected  (313MB)
non-map           (642MB)

Merged IRB
map projected  (351MB)

Merged RGB
map-projected  (337MB)

RGB color
non map           (615MB)
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.