The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has captured some strange formations on the surface of the Red Planet with its Context Camera giving clues about the measurements of one impact crater with a central peak and another collapse depression with concentric troughs.
Gullies on Martian sand dunes found on Matara Crater, have been very active, with many flows seen in the last ten years. These flows typically occur when seasonal frost is present on the Red Planet. There are no fresh flows so far this year, but HiRISE will keep watching, said NASA in a statement.
The imgages shared by the US space agency reveal a trough in a close-up, along with some channels receding into the depression. Some grooved material on the floor of the trough resemble similar formations visible in middle latitude region with glacial flow. Origin of these trough, visible in other regions of Mars are still elusive.
NASA’s image CTX 033783_1509 was captured by MRO’s Context Camera that has a larger viewing angle than HiRISE, though its resolution is limited compared to the latter. The original image scale is 51.3 centimeters (20.2 inches) per pixel (with 2 x 2 binning); objects at 154 centimeters (60.6 inches) across are resolved but the current image is at a scale of 50 centimeters (19.7 inches) per pixel. North is up.
Lobo Vallis rippples
In another image, NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has shown bright ripples,lining the topography in this region, formed within a past climate. Dark dunes and sand streaks of basaltic sand have moved and filled lower areas, pushed by more recent winds from the top towards the bottom of this image. Lobo Vallis is named for a river on the Ivory Coast.
The map is projected here at a scale of 50 centimeters (19.7 inches) per pixel. [The original image scale is 57.7 centimeters (22.6 inches) per pixel (with 2 x 2 binning); objects on the order of 173 centimeters (68.1 inches) across are resolved.] North is up.
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) is a multipurpose spacecraft that is conducting reconnaissance and exploration of Mars from orbit since March 2006, to join five other Mars missions — Mars Global Surveyor, Mars Express, 2001 Mars Odyssey, and the two Mars Exploration Rovers (Spirit and Opportunity) — sent earlier to survey the surface of the Mars.
MRO’s telecommunications system has transferred more data back to Earth than all previous interplanetary missions combined, and it serves as a highly capable relay satellite for future missions, with a lifespan to last for two more decades.
The University of Arizona, Tucson, operates HiRISE and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Project for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington.