An Impact Crater Cluster in Utopia Planitia
An Impact Crater Cluster in Utopia Planitia
ESP_064731_2180  Science Theme: 
The cluster of impact craters in this image formed in fractured terrain in Utopia Planitia, located in the northern lowlands of Mars.

These fractures form polygonal patterns suggesting that the subsurface was probably ice-rich and underwent numerous cycles of seasonal freeze-thaw processes. The crater cluster is approximately 5 kilometers across and probably formed when the impacting body (e.g., meteoroid) started to break up as it passed through Mars’ atmosphere.

The largest crater is about 1.4 kilometers in diameter and exhibits concentric fractures, numerous radial lineations, and small mounds along its interior slopes. These characteristics, in addition to the flow features visible in the large fractures or troughs, suggest a complicated local paleoclimatic history, involving subsurface ice melting and sublimation (when ice changes directly into vapor form) processes.

Written by: Ginny Gulick  (18 August 2020)
Acquisition date
18 May 2020

Local Mars time

Latitude (centered)

Longitude (East)

Spacecraft altitude
296.3 km (184.2 miles)

Original image scale range
59.7 cm/pixel (with 2 x 2 binning) so objects ~179 cm across are resolved

Map projected scale
50 cm/pixel and North is up

Map projection

Emission angle

Phase angle

Solar incidence angle
70°, with the Sun about 20° above the horizon

Solar longitude
203.1°, Northern Autumn

For non-map projected images
North azimuth:  96°
Sub-solar azimuth:  335.7°
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Merged IRB
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IRB color
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Black and white
map-projected  (239MB)
non-map           (254MB)

IRB color
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non-map           (264MB)

Merged IRB
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Merged RGB
map-projected  (574MB)

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

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NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

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.