Mars express captures possible traces of water


ESA’s Mars Express spacecraft captured images of 120 km wide Hadley Crater which revealed there has been several subsequent impacts within the crater leading to formation of further craters, that are up to 2600 m deep than surrounding surface.  This observation has facilitated researchers with valuable information about martian crust and possible presence of water. Images show that there has been several impacts by large asteroids and/or comets after it was formed and later when it filled up with lava and sediments.

Evidence of ice water is visible in ejecta blankets of two smaller craters within the Hadley crater. During formation of these ejecta blankets, volatiles on mars surface spread around impacted craters  due to humongous energy produced. These volatiles then deposited and are visible in the images captured. Scientists suggest this is indication of ice being present at the depth of few hundred meters from where these volatiles excavated during impact.

The image shows the main 120 km wide crater, with subsequent impacts at later epochs within it. Evidence of these subsequent impacts occurring over large timescales is shown by some of the craters being buried. Credits: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum)

In image above, southern side appears shallower than the opposite side, which is due to erosion. This is known as mass wasting, may have been started due to earthquakes, erosion at down slope, ice splitting the rocks or due to water being introduced into slope material. Though in this case, actual reason is still unidentified.

Hadley crater lies in the west of Al-Qahira Vallis and was named after British lawyer and meteorologist George Hadley (1685-1768). Images were taken by High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) installed on Mars express. Mars express provided assistance in landing mission of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory’s Curiosity rover last month and now has returned on mission of studying martial geology and atmosphere.

Source: ESA

Featured image: ESA

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