Craters in Southeastern Syria Planum
Craters in Southeastern Syria Planum
PSP_009039_1660  Science Theme: Tectonic Processes
This image shows two landforms that appear similar, but are the result of two very different geologic processes.

These two depressions are craters. The smaller, rounder crater formed when an asteroid collided with Mars. This impact blasted out the pre-existing rocks, forming this quasi-circular crater.

The larger, more irregular-shaped crater is a pit crater. These types of craters form through collapse of the ground surface into large underground voids. In this region of Mars, these underground voids are likely caused by the movement of magma (molten rock) through the subsurface. As the magma moves underground, it forces the rock apart and forms large “caverns.” These voids are structurally unstable and can lead to collapse of the overlying rock, forming pit craters at the surface.

Impact craters are distinguished from pit craters by the presence of a raised rim. Rock blasted out during the impact falls back to the ground and accumulates near the crater, forming this raised rim. Upward warping of the ground during the impact process also contributes to the raised appearance of the crater rim. Since pit craters form through collapse, their rims are at the same level, or perhaps slightly lower, than surrounding ground surface.

The impact crater has a bright streak extending southeast (toward the lower right). The bright material is dust, deposited downwind of the crater by prevailing winds. Zooming into the streak, small bedforms, presumably composed of dust or dust aggregates, are visible. Similar features are seen in other dusty regions of Mars.

Written by: chriso  (13 August 2008)

This is a stereo pair with PSP_008749_1660.
Acquisition date
30 June 2008

Local Mars time

Latitude (centered)

Longitude (East)

Spacecraft altitude
250.3 km (155.6 miles)

Original image scale range
50.8 cm/pixel (with 2 x 2 binning) so objects ~152 cm across are resolved

Map projected scale
50 cm/pixel and North is up

Map projection

Emission angle

Phase angle

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

Solar longitude
92.5°, Northern Summer

For non-map projected images
North azimuth:  96°
Sub-solar azimuth:  44.6°
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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/JPL/University of Arizona

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.