Crater Cluster in Chryse Planitia
Crater Cluster in Chryse Planitia
PSP_007059_1975  Science Theme: Fluvial Processes
This image shows a cluster of impact craters in Chryse Planitia, near the outlet of one of Mars’ giant outflow channels.

The craters are loosely aligned in a chain running from northwest to southeast. Clusters like this form when an asteroid or comet impacts the surface and forms a large crater; material thrown out of that crater often forms streaks or rays containing many small craters from the impact of ejected blocks. These secondary craters are sometimes more irregularly shaped since they are typically less energetic impacts; many of the craters in this image are not quite circular.

An interesting feature to note is the dark material in many of the larger craters. What accounts for this? The largest craters trap wind-blown sand most effectively, but many of the smaller, shallower craters also contain ripples suggesting that they also trap sand or dust.

An alternative possibility is that these craters have excavated to a deeper layer of different material. A combination of these processes is also possible, since smaller craters may be more easily buried.

Written by: Colin Dundas  (2 April 2008)
Acquisition date
28 January 2008

Local Mars time

Latitude (centered)

Longitude (East)

Spacecraft altitude
282.8 km (175.7 miles)

Original image scale range
28.3 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) so objects ~85 cm across are resolved

Map projected scale
25 cm/pixel and North is up

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Emission angle

Phase angle

Solar incidence angle
39°, with the Sun about 51° above the horizon

Solar longitude
24.0°, Northern Spring

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North azimuth:  97°
Sub-solar azimuth:  359.7°
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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’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.