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Honeycomb-Textured Landforms in Northwestern Hellas Planitia

Bringing some of the mysteries of the universe a little closer to home.

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Owlscrying
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Unread post Sun Dec 03, 2017 3:52 pm

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Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

This image from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) targets a portion of a group of honeycomb-textured landforms in northwestern Hellas Planitia, which is part of one of the largest and most ancient impact basins on Mars.

In a larger Context Camera image, the individual "cells" are about 5 to 10 kilometers wide. With HiRISE, we see much greater detail of these cells, like sand ripples that indicate wind erosion has played some role here. We also see distinctive exposures of bedrock that cut across the floor and wall of the cells. These resemble dykes, which are usually formed by volcanic activity.

Additionally, the lack of impact craters suggests that the landscape, along with these features, have been recently reshaped by a process, or number of processes that may even be active today. Scientists have been debating how these honeycombed features are created, theorizing from glacial events, lake formation, volcanic activity, and tectonic activity, to wind erosion.

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Owlscrying
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Unread post Sun Dec 03, 2017 3:55 pm

Image
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

At around 2,200 kilometers in diameter, Hellas Planitia is the largest visible impact basin in the Solar System, and hosts the lowest elevations on Mars' surface as well as a variety of landscapes. This image from NASA's Mars Reconnaisance Orbiter (MRO) covers a small central portion of the basin and shows a dune field with lots of dust devil trails.

In the middle, we see what appears to be long and straight "scratch marks" running down the southeast (bottom-right) facing dune slopes. If we look closer, we can see these scratch marks actually squiggle back and forth on their way down the dune. These scratch marks are linear gullies.

Just like on Earth, high-latitude regions on Mars are covered with frost in the winter. However, the winter frost on Mars is made of carbon dioxide ice (dry ice) instead of water ice. We believe linear gullies are the result of this dry ice breaking apart into blocks, which then slide or roll down warmer sandy slopes, sublimating and carving as they go.

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Owlscrying
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Unread post Sun Dec 03, 2017 3:56 pm



Hellas Planitia is a plain located within the huge, roughly circular impact basin Hellas located in the southern hemisphere of the planet Mars. Hellas is the third or fourth largest impact crater and the largest visible impact crater known in the Solar System.

 

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