Hadley Crater
Science & Exploration

Hadley Crater provides deep insight into martian geology

06/09/2012 4202 views 6 likes
ESA / Science & Exploration / Space Science / Mars Express

Recently engaged in providing support to the successful landing of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory's Curiosity rover, ESA’s Mars Express has now returned to its primary mission of studying the diverse geology and atmosphere of the 'Red Planet' from orbit.

Earlier this year, the spacecraft observed the 120 km wide Hadley Crater, providing a tantalising insight into the martian crust. The images show multiple subsequent impacts within the main crater wall, reaching depths of up to 2600 m below the surrounding surface.

Hadley Crater perspective view
Hadley Crater perspective view

This region imaged on 9 April 2012 by the High Resolution Stereo Camera on Mars Express shows the crater which lies to the west of the Al-Qahira Vallis in the transition zone between the old southern highlands and the younger northern lowlands.

Hadley is named after the British lawyer and meteorologist George Hadley (1685-1768) whose name was also given to the ‘Hadley cell’, a circulation system in the Earth’s atmosphere, which transports heat and moisture from the tropics up to higher latitudes.

The images show that Hadley Crater was struck multiple times by large asteroids and/or comets after its initial formation and subsequent infilling with lava and sediments.

Some of these later impacts have also been partly buried, with subtle hints of a number of crater rims to the west (top), and wrinkle ridges to the north (right side) of the main crater floor as shown in the first image at the top of the page.

Hadley Crater in context
Hadley Crater in context

Again, in the first image (top of the page), the southern (left) side, the crater appears shallower than the opposite side. This difference can be explained by an erosion process known as mass wasting. This is where surface material moves down a slope under the force of gravity.

Mass wasting can be initially started by a range of processes including earthquakes, erosion at the base of the slope, ice splitting the rocks or water being introduced into the slope material, In this case there is no clear indication which process caused it, or over what timescales this may have occurred.

Hadley Crater perspective view
Hadley Crater perspective view

Of particular interest to scientists studying the geology of Mars are the ejecta of the smaller craters within Hadley. Two of them, one to the west (top), and the deepest one in the middle of the first image, show evidence for volatiles, possibly water ice beneath the surface.

With the impact that forms the craters, this ice would mix with surrounding materials to form a kind of 'mud', which would then spread over the surface as ejecta.

Topographical view of Hadley crater
Topographical view of Hadley crater

Scientists believe these volatiles which were excavated by the impacts, may indicate the presence of ice to a depth of around hundreds of metres, this being the difference in depth between the surface and the depths of the two craters.

This deep view into the martian crust within the walls of Hadley Crater provides scientists an insight into the history of Mars. A history which rovers like those currently on the Red Planet and others which follow will doubtless continue to investigate.

3D anaglyph view of Hadley crater
3D anaglyph view of Hadley crater

Related Links

Argyre Planitia and Hooke Crater
Science & Exploration

Ice-coated beauty in Mars’ Silver Island

04/10/2012 5063 views 24 likes
Read
Hadley Crater
Science & Exploration

Hadley Crater provides deep insight into martian geology

06/09/2012 4202 views 6 likes
Read
Ladon basin in full colour
Science & Exploration

The fractured features of Ladon basin

02/08/2012 2522 views 4 likes
Read
Melas Dorsa in full colour
Science & Exploration

Melas Dorsa reveals a complex geological history on Mars

05/07/2012 3562 views 9 likes
Read
Danielson and Kalocsa craters
Science & Exploration

Mars crater shows evidence for climate evolution

07/06/2012 2877 views 3 likes
Read
Acidalia Planitia and Tempe Terra transition
Science & Exploration

Signs of ancient flowing water on Mars

04/05/2012 2609 views 4 likes
Read
Science & Exploration

First Mars Express gravity results plot volcanic history

26/04/2012 3256 views 9 likes
Read
Pit-chains in Tharsis
Science & Exploration

The pit-chains of Mars – a possible place for life?

05/04/2012 4110 views 13 likes
Read
Ancient northern ocean on Mars
Science & Exploration

ESA's Mars Express radar gives strong evidence for former M…

06/02/2012 6601 views 8 likes
Read
Part of Syrtis Major
Science & Exploration

Mars Express reveals wind-blown deposits on Mars

03/02/2012 1991 views 2 likes
Read
Phlegra Montes on Mars
Science & Exploration

Mountains and buried ice on Mars

02/12/2011 3206 views 7 likes
Read
Battered volcano Tharsis Tholus
Science & Exploration

Battered Tharsis Tholus volcano on Mars

08/11/2011 3176 views 2 likes
Read
Oraibi crater in Ares Vallis
Science & Exploration

Mars Express observes clusters of recent craters in Ares Va…

07/10/2011 1814 views 3 likes
Read
Holden and Eberswalde craters
Science & Exploration

Rare martian lake delta spotted by Mars Express

02/09/2011 4402 views 17 likes
Read
Mars’ northern polar regions
Science & Exploration

Mars’ northern polar regions in transition

05/08/2011 3771 views 5 likes
Read
Science & Exploration

Phobos slips past Jupiter

17/06/2011 4588 views 13 likes
Read
Springtime at Mars’ south pole
Science & Exploration

Springtime at Mars’ south pole

07/06/2011 3439 views 6 likes
Read
Deep fractures on Mars
Science & Exploration

Mars Express sees deep fractures on Mars

06/05/2011 2706 views 3 likes
Read

Related Links