A new image from ESA’s Mars Express orbiter shows part of Aonia Terra, a highland region in the southern highlands of Mars.
Aonia Terra is a region located in the southern hemisphere of Mars.
This region is centered at 60 ° S 97 ° W, covers 3,900 km at its widest extent and is known for its impressive craters – such as the 200 km wide Lowell Crater
Aonia Terra is named after a property called Aonia, a dark spot on the surface of Mars that can be seen from Earth, even with rudimentary telescopes.
Aonia was also a region of ancient Greece, a place sacred to the goddesses of museums, literature, science and art.
“The southern highlands are among the oldest formations on Mars and were formed 3.8 to 3.5 billion years ago, during the Noah’s period,” said ESA researchers.
“The age of a planet’s surface can be determined by statistical analysis of the different crater sizes and how often they occur.”
“The older a region is, the more craters it will have and the greater the number of large craters there will be.”
Using this method, scientists were able to determine three different periods of Mars’ history: Noachian (4.1 to 3.7 billion years ago), Hesperian (3.7 to 3.3 billion years ago) and the Amazon (from 3.3 billion years ago to today) day). “
The new image, taken by the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) aboard ESA’s Mars Express spacecraft on April 25, 2022, shows scary and colorful – by March standards – landscapes that make up Aonia Terra.
The 30 km wide nameless crater in the middle of the picture is nestled in a landscape of winding canals.
The canals appear to be partially filled with a dark material, and in some places they actually appear to be elevated above the surrounding land.
“There are a variety of possible explanations for this,” the researchers said.
“Perhaps erosion-resistant sediment settled to the bottom of the canals as water flowed through them. Or perhaps the canals were filled with lava later in the history of Mars.”
The image reveals many different colors in the surface around the crater, which indicates that this region on Mars consists of a variety of materials.
South of the crater, the surface is warm red and melts to a darker brown-gray closer to the crater.
In this region, many butter is visible – these flat towers of stone are created when land is gradually worn away by water, wind or ice.
Inside the crater, a dark dune field rests on a lighter surface. Upon closer inspection, it becomes apparent that the crater is filled with more butter and cone-shaped hills.
“It is possible to distinguish a black dune field inside the impact crater. It consists of small crescent duvets, some of which have fused together, the researchers say.
“Measures 5.4 times 2.7 km, it sits on top of a light deposit that has probably been formed by weather effects in combination with water.”
“The black sands are known to be of volcanic origin because they consist of minerals that could only have been brought to the surface of Mars by volcanism. Their composition is also very similar to volcanic ash on Earth.”
“They are called basalt dunes because they are composed of volcanic minerals and can be found in many places on Mars.”
“Basalts are the most common volcanic rocks on Mars. On Earth, there are only a few examples of these dark dunes, for example in Hawaii, because they only exist where volcanic activity takes place in a dry climate.”
“On closer inspection, you can also discover many small hills and heights away from the dune field on the crater floor, which stand as hills in the landscape,” they added.
“This shows that the interior of the crater also consists of many different materials that have been collected here.”
“Measurements with the instrument Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) on board NASA’s spacecraft Mars Odyssey reveals that the light deposits have very high thermal inertia, while the remaining material on the crater floor has very low thermal inertia. “
“Thermal inertia is a measure of the consolidation of a material, with high thermal inertia indicating solid rock and low thermal inertia indicating loose material.”
“These different properties confirm the large differences in the composition of the crater fill.”
North of the crater, the surface is brighter and smoother. The edges of the main crater and channels appear less defined.
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