Click for original image.
Cool image time! The picture to the right, cropped, reduced, and sharpened to post here, was taken on March 10, 2023 by the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO).
As I noted in a cool image only two weeks ago, brain terrain is a geological feature wholly unique to Mars that planetary geologists still do not understand or can explain. They know its knobby interweaving nodules (resembling the convolutions of the human brain) are related to near surface ice and its sublimation into gas, but no one has much confidence in any of the theories that posit the process that forms it.
In this case the brain terrain not only fills the crater, it appears to surround it as well, but only appearing at spots where a smooth top layer has begun to break apart. Moreover, the crater appears to be a pedestal crater, whereby much of the less dense surrounding terrain has vanished, leaving the compacted crater sitting higher.
The black dot south of Reull Valles on the overview map to the right marks the location of this crater, in a region where many glacial features are found, both in Reull and on the flanks of the surrounding mountains.
This picture in many ways might actually give us a potential explanation for brain terrain, which here only appears where the smooth top layer has either disappeared or broken, exposing the ice below. That newly exposed ice then sublimates away as a gas in a random manner, leaving behind the strange brain terrain in its wake.
This of course is a pure guess, and is hardly a real explanation. The alien components involved — the light Martian gravity, its cold and very thin atmosphere of carbon dioxide, and the poorly understood behavior of water and ice in these circumstances — make any theory very uncertain. Any hypothesis put forth by a non-geologist like myself should be taken with less seriousness.
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