Click for full image.
Cool image time! The photo to the right, rotated, cropped, reduced, and sharpened to post here, was taken on October 12. 2022 by the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). Dubbed simply as a a “terrain sample” by the science team, the picture was not taken as part of any specific research project, but instead to fill a gap in the orbiter’s shooting schedule so as to maintain the camera’s proper temperature. When MRO’s science team does this, they try to pick something in the area below that might be interesting. Sometimes they succeed, but often the features in the picture are nondescript.
The white line delineates the rim of a faint and very eroded small crater. Are the depressions that are mostly concentrated just to its south and east sinks or past impact craters? I haven’t the faintest idea. The overview map below helps to answer this question, but only partly.
The black dot in the southwest quadrant of 80-mile-wide Arrhenius Crater marks this picture’s location. The inset gives us the global context of this overview map.
Note that this image sits just outside the region where scientists have found many glaciers and ice scarps. The edges of that region are of course not as precise as suggested by the white line, so it is very possible these depressions are sinks formed by the sublimation of near-surface underground ice, similar to the scallops found elsewhere in this region.
At the same time, a different hi-res image in the northeast quadrant of Arrhenius’s floor appears far less icy, suggesting instead that this spray of holes might instead be secondary impacts from a larger impact nearby.
Being on the border of this region appears to make any judgment uncertain. The uncertainty also suggests that we simply don’t yet have enough information about the full extent of Mars’ mid-latitude glacial bands.
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