Light-Toned Rocks Exposed inside a Crater
Light-Toned Rocks Exposed inside a Crater
PSP_008075_1590  Science Theme: Composition and Photometry
This observation shows a portion of an approximately 30 kilometer diameter impact crater located to the south of Valles Marineris.

The image reveals that the central uplift inside the crater is a mixture of dark-toned and light-toned materials. It’s likely that some of the rocks in the center of the crater represent units at depth that we wouldn’t otherwise see along the plains that surround the crater. The light-toned units in particular are not visible in the plains surrounding this crater so they could be material that is buried beneath the plains and only visible inside craters or other vertical exposures, such as those created by faults.

Some of the light-toned material appears angular and blocky, consistent with material that has been disrupted and uplifted by an explosion associated with the crater’s formation. The reason why some material appears light-toned is unknown but could be due to a different composition than the darker-toned unit.

Many light-toned units seen elsewhere on Mars, including within Valles Marineris, are made of sulfates so there may be sulfate-rich rocks buried beneath the plains at this location and the formation of the crater exposed them. In any case, the distinct materials visible within impact craters suggest that the crust on Mars may contain many units of variable composition.

Written by: Cathy Weitz  (14 May 2008)

This is a stereo pair with PSP_009512_1590.
Acquisition date
16 April 2008

Local Mars time

Latitude (centered)

Longitude (East)

Spacecraft altitude
255.9 km (159.0 miles)

Original image scale range
25.8 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) so objects ~77 cm across are resolved

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25 cm/pixel and North is up

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Solar incidence angle
63°, with the Sun about 27° above the horizon

Solar longitude
59.6°, Northern Spring

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North azimuth:  97°
Sub-solar azimuth:  44.5°
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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.