Mars Mysteries: Unveiling the Icy Craters
Mars Mysteries: Unveiling the Icy Craters
ESP_025840_2240  Science Theme: Glacial/Periglacial Processes
Over the past two decades, HiRISE and the Context Camera on MRO have catalogued hundreds of new impact craters. Some of these recent craters, particularly in the mid- to high-latitudes, have excavated buried water-ice that typically is exposed within the crater cavity.

In some cases, these patchy icy deposits and meter-sized blocks of ice are thrown out of the crater and form part of the ejecta. This image shows one such example of a 13-meter (43 feet) diameter crater in Arcadia Planitia where ice was exposed both in the crater interior and ejecta.

The crater is accompanied by a dark blast zone, extending almost 850 meters (half a mile) from the center. Subsequent observations permit monitoring of the gradual sublimation of these ice exposures at high resolution. This provides details about sublimation rates at a given location over time and gives us important insights for understanding near-surface ice-stability and the present-day climate on Mars.

The ice exposed by such craters also helps scientists get an idea of the purity, amount, and the depth of buried ice that relates to the conditions when the ice was initially deposited.

Written by: Vidhya Ganesh Rangarajan, Livio Leonardo Tornabene (narration: Tre Gibbs)  (18 March 2024)
Acquisition date
30 January 2012

Local Mars time

Latitude (centered)

Longitude (East)

Spacecraft altitude
301.0 km (187.1 miles)

Original image scale range
30.4 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) so objects ~91 cm across are resolved

Map projected scale
25 cm/pixel and North is up

Map projection

Emission angle

Phase angle

Solar incidence angle
40°, with the Sun about 50° above the horizon

Solar longitude
64.1°, Northern Spring

For non-map projected images
North azimuth:  97°
Sub-solar azimuth:  347.7°
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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’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. The HiRISE camera was built by Ball Aerospace and Technology Corporation and is operated by the University of Arizona.