Triple-Crater in Elysium Planitia
NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
Triple-Crater in Elysium Planitia
ESP_039147_1940  Science Theme: Impact Processes


1080p (MP4)
720p (MP4)
Listen to the text


800  1024
1152  1280
1440  1600
1920  2048
2560  2880


PDF, 11 x 17 in


This image shows a triple impact crater in Elysium Planitia near Tartarus Montes, which probably formed when a binary—or even triple—asteroid struck the surface. (Binary asteroids orbit each other, while also orbiting the Sun). The two larger craters must have been produced by asteroids of approximately the same size, on the order of a few hundred meters across.

The northern crater might have been created by a smaller asteroid, which was orbiting the larger binary pair, or when one of the binary asteroids broke up upon entering the atmosphere. The shape of the triple-crater is oblong, suggesting an oblique impact; therefore, another alternative would be that the asteroid split upon impact and ricocheted across the surface, creating additional craters.

What evidence is visible in this image that shows that the three craters did not form independently? The ejecta blanket appears to be uniform around the triple-crater showing no signs of burial or overlapping ejecta from overprinting craters. The crater rims are significantly stunted where the craters overlap.

Written by: Eric Pilles, Livio Tornabene, Ryan Hopkins, Kayle Hansen (audio: Tre Gibbs)  (21 January 2015)

This is a stereo pair with ESP_039292_1940.

Click to share this post on Twitter Click to share this post on Facebook Click to share this post on Google+ Click to share this post on Tumblr
Acquisition date
02 December 2014

Local Mars time:

Latitude (centered)

Longitude (East)

Range to target site
281.5 km (175.9 miles)

Original image scale range
56.3 cm/pixel (with 2 x 2 binning) so objects ~169 cm across are resolved

Map projected scale
50 cm/pixel and North is up

Map projection

Emission angle:

Phase angle:

Solar incidence angle
61°, with the Sun about 29° above the horizon

Solar longitude
245.0°, Northern Autumn

North azimuth:

Sub-solar azimuth:
Black and white
map projected  non-map

IRB color
map projected  non-map

Merged IRB
map projected

Merged RGB
map projected

RGB color
non-map projected

Black and white
map-projected   (280MB)

IRB color
map-projected   (133MB)

Black and white
map-projected  (125MB)
non-map           (156MB)

IRB color
map projected  (54MB)
non-map           (155MB)

Merged IRB
map projected  (299MB)

Merged RGB
map-projected  (277MB)

RGB color
non map           (149MB)
Map-projected, reduced-resolution
Full resolution JP2 download
Anaglyph details page

B&W label
Color label
Merged IRB label
Merged RGB label
EDR products

IRB: infrared-red-blue
RGB: red-green-blue
About color products (PDF)

Black & white is 5 km across; enhanced color about 1 km
For scale, use JPEG/JP2 black & white map-projected images

All of the images produced by HiRISE and accessible on this site are within the public domain: there are no restrictions on their usage by anyone in the public, including news or science organizations. We do ask for a credit line where possible:
NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

For information about NASA and agency programs on the Web, visit: NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif., manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems is the prime contractor for the project and built the spacecraft. The HiRISE camera was built by Ball Aerospace and Technology Corporation and is operated by the University of Arizona. The image data were processed using the U.S. Geological Survey’s ISIS3 software.