PIA21596: It Shrinks! It Cracks!
 Target Name:  Mars
 Is a satellite of:  Sol (our sun)
 Mission:  Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO)
 Spacecraft:  Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO)
 Instrument:  HiRISE
 Product Size:  2880 x 1800 pixels (w x h)
 Produced By:  University of Arizona/HiRISE-LPL
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 Full-Res TIFF:  PIA21596.tif (5.191 MB)
 Full-Res JPEG:  PIA21596.jpg (984.4 kB)

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Given enough time, impact craters on Mars tend to fill up with different materials. For instance, some craters on Mars had lakes inside them in the past. When these lakes dried out, they left behind traces of their past existence, such as sedimentary deposits (materials that were carried along with the running water into the lake inside the crater and then settled down). Some craters, especially in high latitudes, contain ice deposits that filled the crater when an earlier ice age allowed ice to extend into the crater's latitude.

Here, NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spies a crater that lies close to Elysium, a major volcanic system on Mars. The whole region surrounding the crater was at some point covered by lava from the volcano creating vast lava plains, and in the process, flooding impact craters in their way.

When the lava eventually cooled down, it solidified and began to shrink in size. This shrinking led to formation of cracks on the surface of the lava that grew in a circular pattern matching the shape of the crater it was filling.

Scientists can study these fractures and estimate how much it shrank in volume to better understand the properties of the lava (such as its temperature) during the time it filled the crater.

The map is projected here at a scale of 50 centimeters (19.7 inches) per pixel. [The original image scale is 55.3 centimeters (21.8 inches) per pixel (with 2 x 2 binning); objects on the order of 166 centimeters (65.4 inches) across are resolved.] North is up

The University of Arizona, Tucson, operates HiRISE, which was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colo. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, California, manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington.

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

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