Mars up close and personal


Spacecraft images reveal rock formations created over millions of years. 


Variations in rock and sand sediments formed zebra-like patterns in the large Martian crater.

NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

This image, taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft, shows rock and sand sediments in the planet’s Danielson Crater.

The impact crater, about 42 miles, or 67 kilometres, in diameter, is in the southwest Arabia Terra region of Mars.

The rock is thought to have formed millions, even possibly billions of years ago from layers of loose particles that gradually settled into the crater and hardened into rock.

Because of cyclical variations in the nature of the sediments, some were more resilient to erosion, forming the layered steps over time.

As different coloured sands, appearing bluer in contrast to the red rock, scattered across the steps they formed the zebra-like pattern seen here.

Combining this image with a stereo pair taken from the area will allow the thicknesses of the layers and their variation through time to be measured, yielding possible insights into ancient climatic processes that created them.

The map is projected at a scale of 50 centimetres per pixel and north is up.

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  1. https://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/layers-in-mars-danielson-crater
  2. https://www.uahirise.org/ESP_027615_1880
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