Enhanced 3-D Model of Mars Crater Edge Shows Ups and Downs
A digital terrain model generated from a stereo pair of images provides this synthesized, oblique view of a portion of the wall terraces of Mojave Crater in the Xanthe Terra region of Mars. This view, in which the vertical dimension is exaggerated three-fold compared with horizontal dimensions, shows the ponding of material backed up behind massive wall-terrace blocks of bedrock. Mojave gives us a glimpse of what a very large complex crater looks like on Mars. It is centered at 327.0 degrees east longitude, 7.5 degrees north latitude. The portion of its northwestern edge, shown here, spans about 3.5 kilometers (about 2.5 miles) in width halfway between the bottom and top of the image. The view is toward the north.
A dramatic 3-D Mars view based on terrain modeling from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter data shows “highs and lows” of the Mojave Crater. The vertical dimension is exaggerated three-fold compared with horizontal dimensions in the synthesized images of a portion of the crater’s wall. The resulting images look like the view from a low-altitude aircraft. They reflect one use of digital modeling derived from two observations by the orbiter’s High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera.
This enhanced view shows material that has ponded and is backed up behind massive blocks of bedrock in the crater’s terrace walls. Hundreds of Martian impact craters have similar ponding with pitted surfaces. Scientists believe these “pitted ponds” are created when material melted by the crater-causing impacts is captured behind the wall terraces.
Mojave Crater, one of the freshest large craters on Mars, is about 60 kilometers (37 miles) in diameter. In a sense, it is like the Rosetta Stone of Martian craters, because it is so fresh. Other craters of this size generally have already been affected by erosion, sediment and other geologic process. Fresh craters like Mohave reveal information about the impact process, including ejecta, melt-generation and deposition.
A survey of Mohave’s features indicates very few overprinting craters on them, and an analysis of that infrequency suggests the crater may be as young as about 10 million years, very young for a crater of this size. The depth of the crater — about 2.6 kilometers (1.6 miles) — also demonstrates that Mojave has experienced little infilling or erosion.