Promethei Terra, southern highlands of Mars

October 12, 2004

These images, taken by the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) on board ESA's Mars Express spacecraft, show a part of the southern highlands of Mars, called Promethei Terra. The images were taken during orbit 368 in May 2004 with a ground resolution of approximately 14 metres per pixel. The displayed region is centred around longitude 118° East and latitude 42° South.

They show an area in the Promethei Terra region, east of the Hellas Planitia impact basin. The smooth surface is caused by a layer of dust or volcanic ash that is up to several tens of metres thick.

This layer has covered all landforms, and even young impact craters have lost their contours due to in-fill and collapse of their fragile crater walls. This layer has been removed by the wind at some ridges and crater walls.

Although these images were taken at high resolution and show very fine detail, this covering layer leads to a slightly fuzzy appearance.

The large impact crater in the southern part of the image is 32 kilometres wide and up to 1200 metres deep. The dark crater floor is most likely the result of 'deflation', the geological term for the lifting and removal of loose material.

The dust removed here has accumulated in the southern part of the crater, forming a thick layer. The numerous dark tracks to the north-western and west are 'dust devil' tracks.

These atmospheric 'eddies', like tornadoes on Earth, remove the uppermost dust layers which have a slightly different colour to the now-exposed surface. The tracks can be more than 20 kilometres long and contrast prominently with the lighter-coloured surroundings.

Dust devil tracks provide short-lived evidence of the ongoing geological and atmospheric activity on Mars, which consists mainly of the transport of dust by wind.

Another sign for this 'aeolian' (wind-related) activity in the area is the existence of small dune fields that have formed in some of the depressions. They can be seen in the crater in the north and in its surroundings (see close-up).

The dust devils are not limited by geomorphological boundaries: for example, their tracks cross the crater rim. Dust devil tracks can also be seen on the thick dust layer in the southern part of the crater.

Due to the thickness of the dust layer, no darker material is exposed here. The dust devil tracks show two distinct directions of movement: east to west and south-east to north-west.

The colour images have been processed using the nadir (vertical view) and three colour channels, and the perspective views have been calculated from the digital terrain model derived from the stereo channels. The 3D anaglyph image has been created from the nadir and one stereo channel.
-end-
For more information on Mars Express HRSC images, you might like to read our updated 'Frequently Asked Questions'.

More images can be found at http://www.esa.int/export/SPECIALS/Mars_Express/SEM95XMKPZD_0.html

European Space Agency

Related Mars Articles from Brightsurf:

Water on ancient Mars
A meteorite that originated on Mars billions of years ago reveals details of ancient impact events on the red planet.

Surprise on Mars
NASA's InSight mission provides data from the surface of Mars.

Going nuclear on the moon and Mars
It might sound like science fiction, but scientists are preparing to build colonies on the moon and, eventually, Mars.

Mars: Where mud flows like lava
An international research team including recreated martian conditions in a low-pressure chamber to observe the flow of mud.

What's Mars made of?
Earth-based experiments on iron-sulfur alloys thought to comprise the core of Mars reveal details about the planet's seismic properties for the first time.

The seismicity of Mars
Fifteen months after the successful landing of the NASA InSight mission on Mars, first scientific analyses of ETH Zurich researchers and their partners reveal that the planet is seismically active.

Journey to the center of Mars
While InSight's seismometer has been patiently waiting for the next big marsquake to illuminate its interior and define its crust-mantle-core structure, two scientists, have built a new compositional model for Mars.

Getting mac and cheese to Mars
Washington State University scientists have developed a way to triple the shelf life of ready-to-eat macaroni and cheese, a development that could have benefits for everything from space travel to military use.

Life on Mars?
Researchers from Hungary have discovered embedded organic material in a Martian meteorite found in the late 1970s.

New evidence of deep groundwater on Mars
Researchers at the USC Arid Climate and Water Research Center (AWARE) have published a study that suggests deep groundwater could still be active on Mars and could originate surface streams in some near-equatorial areas on Mars.

Read More: Mars News and Mars Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.