HRSC: MEX spies nameless, ancient impact crater

Mars_Express_spies_a_nameless_and_ancient_impact_crater_node_full_image_2This striking perspective view from ESA’s Mars Express shows an unnamed but eye-catching impact crater on Mars. This region sits south-west of a dark plain named Mare Serpentis (literally ‘the sea of serpents’), which in turn is located in Noachis Terra (literally ‘the land of Noah’).

Noachis Terra is one of the oldest known regions on the Red Planet, dating back at least 3.9 billion years— in fact, the earliest martian era, the Noachian epoch, is named after it. Noachis Terra is representative of ancient Mars’ surface, which is characteristically peppered with craters that have been preserved for billions of years, although many have degraded over time.

The crater visible on the top right of this image is around 4 km deep and 50 km in diameter. At its very centre is a small depression known as a central pit. These are common in craters on rocky worlds throughout the Solar System, especially on Mars, and are thought to form as icy material explosively vaporises and turns to gas in the heat of the initial crater-forming collision. [More at link]

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