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Gullies and glaciers in a crater on Mars

The gullies and glaciers in Avire Crater
Click for full image.

Cool image time! The photo to the right, rotated, cropped, and reduced to post here, was taken on July 10, 2022 by the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). It shows the floor of 4-mile-wide Avire Crater, located at about 41 degrees south latitude inside the much larger 185-mile wide Newton Crater.

This picture was taken as part of a long term monitoring program of the many gullies that flow down the slopes of the crater’s interior rim. In fact, the gullies of this crater have so interested scientists that one even proposed [pdf] this location as a potential future rover landing site.

Avire Crater, a small … gullied crater within Newton Crater, provides many aspects ideal to a future rover mission. It has been previously hypothesized to be the location of a former paleolake with multiple episodes of ponding and deposition. Gullies occur almost continuously on the southwest wall clockwise to the northeastern wall. Dark-toned dunes are present in the northern portion of the crater, in some places obscuring gullies while cut by gullies in others. No changes in the extent or appearance of the dunes have been observed since they were first imaged … in January of 2000. The dunes lack superimposed craters, indicating that the gullies that cut through them are geologically very youthful. Layered lobate features are present at the base of the gullies on the northern wall, seen in many other craters on Mars (not always in association with gullies), which have been suggested to have formed as terminal moraines of ice-rich flows; in Avire, these features have also been suggested to be paleolake deposits. The crater floor is obscured by mid-latitude “fill” material, hypothesized to be partially comprised of ice based on morphologic evidence that the material has been partially removed.

As gullies, dunes, and “fill” material occur in many places on Mars, a single rover mission to a site containing these features would provide valuable information applicable to thousands of other locations across the planet.

The curved ridgeline in the crater floor is thought to be a moraine. The “fill” material to the south is essentially glacial in nature. Both, as well as the gullies, appear to have been shaped either a paleolake that once existed in the crater or by cyclical glacier activity. By going to this one crater, scientists could study all these different geological features at one time.

Overview map

The black cross in the overview map to the right marks the location of this crater, inside Newton Crater. Located only about 200 to 800 miles from southwest edge of the lava flood plains laid down by Mars’ biggest volcanoes, this crater sits in the southern cratered highlands. Volcanic processes might helped form the bedrock, but those processes were not directly related to those big volcanoes. The dust forming the young dunes inside the crater however could easily have come from the Medusae Fossae Formation, the planet’s largest deposit of volcanic ash that fills the lowlands to the southwest of Olympus Mons for many hundreds of miles.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!

 

From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

 
Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.

 

“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.

 

All editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. The ebook can also be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

 

Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.

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