Friday, December 10, 2010

Mars Express: wind and water have shaped Schiaparelli on Mars!

Mars Express: wind and water have shaped Schiaparelli on Mars!
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This ultra high resolution image of Schiaparelli on Mars shows just a small part of the crater's north-western rim cutting diagonally across the image (top left to bottom right) and a smaller 42-kilometer diameter crater embedded in its rim. Schiaparelli is a large impact basin about 460 kilometres across, located in the eastern Terra Meridiani region on Mars's equator. The image is centred on the equator of Mars, at a longitude of about 14°E. The DLR-operated High-Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) on ESA's Mars Express spacecraft acquired the image on 15 July 2010. The spacecraft was completing orbit 8363 of Mars and the ground resolution of the image is about 19 metres per pixel. All around is evidence of water in the past and the strong Martian winds that blow periodically.
The scene shows a small part of the north-western area of the Schiaparelli basin with the crater rim, the crater interior and parts of the surrounding highlands. Evidence for water can be seen in the form of dark sediments that appear on the floor of Schiaparelli, resembling those deposited by evaporated lakes on Earth.
The interior of Schiaparelli has been modified by multiple geological processes, including the fall of ejecta blasted upwards by the initial impact, flows of lava that created the smooth plains and deposition of watery sediments.
The High-Resolution Stereo Camera, HRSC, on the European Space Agency's Mars Express mission is led by the Principal Investigator (PI) Prof. Dr Gerhard Neukum, who was also responsible for the technical design of the camera. The science team of the experiment consists of 45 co-investigators from 32 institutions and 10 nations. The camera was developed at the German Aerospace Center, DLR, under the leadership of the PI and it was built in cooperation with industrial partners EADS Astrium, Lewicki Microelectronic GmbH and Jena-Optronik GmbH. The instrument on Mars Express is operated by the DLR Institute of Planetary Research, through ESA/ESOC. The systematic processing of the HRSC image data is carried out at DLR. The scenes shown here were processed by the PI-group at the Institute for Geosciences of the Freie Universitat Berlin in cooperation with the DLR Institute of Planetary Research, Berlin.
Credit: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum)

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