THEMIS Image of the Day, December 18, 2017. The majority of the dune field in Rabe Crater consists of a sand sheet with dune forms on the surface. The sand sheet is where a thick layer of sand has been concentrated. As continued winds blow across the sand surface it creates dune forms. The depth of the sand sheet prevents excavation to the crater floor and the dune forms all appear connected.
Rabe Crater is 108 km (67 miles) across. Craters of similar size often have flat floors. Rabe Crater has some areas of flat floor, but also has a large complex pit occupying a substantial part of the floor.
The interior fill of the crater is thought to be layered sediments created by wind and or water action. The pit is eroded into this material. The eroded materials appear to have stayed within the crater forming a large sand sheet with surface dune forms as well as individual dunes where the crater floor is visible. The dunes also appear to be moving from the upper floor level into the pit.
NASA’s Mars Odyssey spacecraft has spent over 15 years in orbit around Mars, circling the planet more than 69,000 times. It holds the record for longest working spacecraft at Mars. THEMIS, the IR/VIS camera system, has collected data for the entire mission and provides images covering all seasons and lighting conditions.
Over the years many features of interest have received repeated imaging, building up a suite of images covering the entire feature. From the deepest chasma to the tallest volcano, individual dunes inside craters and dune fields that encircle the north pole, channels carved by water and lava, and a variety of other feature, THEMIS has imaged them all.
For the next several months the Image of the Day will focus on the Tharsis volcanoes, the various chasmata of Valles Marineris, and the major dunes fields. We hope you enjoy these images!
More THEMIS Images of the Day by geological topic.