. Mars Exploration News .

Ice-clad beauty on the 'Silver Island' of Mars
by Staff Writers
Berlin, Germany (SPX) Oct 08, 2012

illustration only

On 8 June 2012, the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC), operated by the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum fur Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) on board ESA's Mars Express spacecraft, acquired images of a region inside the Argyre Impact Basin, which is 1800 kilometres across and five kilometres deep. This basin was formed as a result of a gigantic meteorite impact during the early lifetime of Mars and is the second largest impact basin on the planet; the Hellas Impact Basin, is the largest.

The name is derived from the Greek word for silver (argyros). The renowned Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli named this bright region on Mars in 1877, adding it to the detailed map he was producing at that time. The name alludes to the 'Silver Island' at the mouth of the River Ganges in Greek mythology.

Wind as a formative force on the surface of Mars

The images presented here all show part of the northern floor of the Argyre Impact Basin; the floor of the basin is referred to as Argyre Planitia. It is easy to identify Hooke Crater, 138 kilometres wide and named after the English physicist and astronomer Robert Hooke (1635-1703).

Large areas of Argyre Planitia have been modified by wind erosion and by the influence of water and ice. This gives rise to the rounded appearance of the landscape surrounding Hooke Crater.

Inside Hooke Crater, constant wind activity has formed dunes, whereas the linear structures lying to the south of the crater, known as 'yardangs', are the result of wind erosion. These are readily identifiable in the colour plan view (image 1/5).

Ground frost and snow clouds on Mars
The most striking feature in these images is the thin layer of carbon dioxide ice (dry ice) that extends across the southern part of the crater, as though it were dusted with icing sugar (to the left in image 1/5). Carbon dioxide ice occurs frequently on the surface of Mars. For a long time, it was assumed that it only formed as frost at ground level, as depicted here.

However, NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter recently discovered clouds made of carbon dioxide 'snow' that can deposit this snow on the Martian surface. Some years earlier, Mars Express had already detected clouds of carbon dioxide ice crystals.

Time at which the images were acquired provides an explanation
It is striking that, in contrast to the plain south of Hooke Crater (left in the colour plan view, 1/5) and some places inside the crater, which are clad in a thin layer of ice, this ice covering is absent from the crater wall facing northwards. The ice here was probably melted by the Sun; this view is supported by the time of day when these images were acquired.

The images were acquired at about 16:30 local time during the winter solstice on the southern hemisphere of Mars. At this time, the Sun would have been only some 20 degrees above the horizon and would therefore only have had the time and energy to heat the northern slopes sufficiently to melt the ice there. It would not have been able to melt the ice located on lower-lying horizontal surfaces.

Schiaparelli would undoubtedly have enjoyed the extraordinary images acquired by the Mars Express spacecraft, which continue to provide modern-day scientists with spectacular data.

Image processing and the HRSC experiment on Mars Express
The images acquired with the HRSC were captured during Mars Express' orbit 10,743. The image resolution is about 22 metres per pixel. The images show a section at 45 degrees south and 314 degrees east.

The colour image was acquired using the nadir channel, which is directed vertically down onto the surface of Mars, and the colour channels of the HRSC; the perspective oblique view was computed from the HRSC stereo channels.

The anaglyph image, which creates a three-dimensional impression of the landscape when viewed with red/blue or red/green glasses, was derived from the nadir channel and one stereo channel. The colour coded plan view is based on a digital terrain model of the region, from which the topography of the landscape can be derived.

The HRSC camera experiment on board the European Space Agency's Mars Express mission is headed by Principal Investigator (PI) Professor Gerhard Neukum (Freie Universitat Berlin), who was also responsible for the technical design of the camera. The science team consists of 40 co-investigators from 33 institutions in 10 nations.

The camera was developed at DLR under the leadership of the PI and it was built in cooperation with industrial partners EADS Astrium, Lewicki Microelectronic GmbH and Jena-Optronik GmbH. The instrument is operated by the DLR Institute of Planetary Research in Berlin-Adlershof. The systematic processing of the HRSC image data is carried out at DLR. The images shown here were created by the Institute of Geological Sciences at Freie Universitat Berlin.

Related Links
Mars Express at DLR
Mars News and Information at MarsDaily.com
Lunar Dreams and more

Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
Buy Advertising Editorial Enquiries


. Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Hadley Crater - closing in on the Martian interior
Berlin, Germany (SPX) Sep 07, 2012
Hadley Crater on Mars has been subject to several impacts by large asteroids in the course of its history. The 'craters within a crater' formed in this way give us a view over two kilometres into the Martian crust. This was revealed in images acquired with the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) on 9 April 2012. The HRSC camera on board ESA's Mars Express spacecraft is operated by the Ger ... read more

China has no timetable for manned moon landing

Senior scientist discusses China's lunar orbiter challenges

NASA sees 'gateway' for space missions

Protection for Moon, Mars astronauts eyed

China Spacesat gets 18-million-USD gov't support

Tiangong Orbit Change Signals Likely Date for Shenzhou 10

China Focus: Timeline for China's space research revealed

China eyes next lunar landing as US scales back

45th Space Wing Supports First SpaceX Launch for NASA's Commercial Resupply Services

SpaceX craft on way to ISS in first supply run

Mission accomplished for ATV Edoardo Amaldi

ISS Partners Plan Yearlong Mission to Orbital Station

Sharpest-ever Ground-based Images of Pluto and Charon: Proves a Powerful Tool for Exoplanet Discoveries

The Kuiper Belt at 20: Paradigm Changes in Our Knowledge of the Solar System

e2v To Supply Large CMOS Imaging Sensors For Imaging Kuiper Belt Objects

Fly New Horizons through the Kuiper Belt

Navigating the Seas of Titan

Titan Shows Surprising Seasonal Changes

Does Triton Have a Subsurface Ocean?

Saturn and its Largest Moon Reflect Their True Colors

SMOS has a better look at salinity

Digital Map Products to Discuss the New Rules for Communicating with Residents

Apple CEO sorry for maps shortcomings

Landslide mapping in the Swiss Alps

Deep Impact Spacecraft Completes Rocket Burn

Virgin Galactic Acquires Full Ownership of The Spaceship Company

Wind delays Austrian's edge of space jump in US

Brazil's vibrant high-tech industry urged to go global

Comet crystals found in a nearby planetary system

The Magnetic Wakes of Pulsar Planets

Stagnant Interiors Suppress Chances of Life on Super-Earths

Meteors Might Add Methane to Exoplanet Atmospheres

Memory Foam Mattress Review

Newsletters :: SpaceDaily Express :: SpaceWar Express :: TerraDaily Express :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News


The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2012 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement