Status Report

NASA Mars Odyssey THEMIS Image: Ceraunius Caldera Floor

By SpaceRef Editor
September 21, 2003
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Mars Global Surveyor Mars Orbiter Camera

MGS MOC Release No. MOC2-489, 20 September 2003

NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems

This Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) picture
shows the pitted floor of the caldera of the martian volcano,
Ceraunius Tholus. A caldera is a large collapse pit
at the summit of a volcano. For reference, a
wide angle MOC view of Ceraunius Tholus
was presented on 18 April 2002,
“Volcanoes Ceraunius Tholus and Uranius Tholus.” Today’s picture shows
a close-up view of the volcano’s caldera floor. The floor
exhibits many pits and holes, but it is uncertain whether these
were formed by meteor impact, volcanic eruptions, or collapse. Most
of them do not have raised rims and ejecta—two features characteristic
of meteor impact craters (although a few shown here have raised
rims); and none have lava flows or volcanic cones associated
with them—characteristics of volcanic eruption. Thus, these pits
might have formed by collapse, although it is more likely that they
were formed by meteor impact, but the ejecta and rims have been buried
by dust or eroded away. This picture is located
near 24.3°N, 97.4°W, and covers an area 3 km (1.9 mi)
across. Sunlight illuminates the scene from the lower left.

Malin Space Science Systems and the California Institute of Technology
built the MOC using spare hardware from the Mars Observer mission.
MSSS operates the camera from its facilities in San Diego, California.
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Mars Surveyor Operations Project
operates the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft with its industrial
partner, Lockheed Martin Astronautics, from facilities in Pasadena,
California and Denver, Colorado.

SpaceRef staff editor.