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Noachis quadrangle

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Noachis quadrangle

Noachis quadrangle
Map of Noachis quadrangle from Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter (MOLA) data. The highest elevations are red and the lowest are blue.
Image of the Noachis Quadrangle (MC-27). The northeast includes the western half of Hellas basin. The southeastern region contains Peneus Patera and part of the Amphitrites volcano.

The Noachis quadrangle is one of a series of 30 quadrangle maps of Mars used by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) Astrogeology Research Program. The Noachis quadrangle is also referred to as MC-27 (Mars Chart-27).[1]

The Noachis quadrangle covers the area from 300° to 360° west longitude and 30° to 65° south latitude on Mars. It lies between the two giant impact basins on Mars: Argyre and Hellas. Noachis is so densely covered with impact craters that it is considered among the oldest landforms on Mars—hence the term "Noachian" for one of the earliest time periods in martian history. In addition, many previously buried craters are now coming to the surface,[2] where Noachis' extreme age has allowed ancient craters to be filled, and once again newly exposed.

Much of the surface in Noachis quadrangle shows a scalloped topography where the disappearance of ground ice has left depressions.[3][4]

The first piece of human technology to land on Mars landed (crashed) in the Noachis quadrangle. The Soviet's Mars 2 crashed at . It weighed about one ton. The automated craft attempted to land in a giant dust storm. To make conditions even worse, this area also has many dust devils.[5]

Scalloped topography

Certain regions of Mars display scalloped-shaped depressions. The depressions are believed to be the remains of an ice-rich mantle deposit. Scallops are created when ice sublimates from frozen soil. This mantle material probably fell from the air as ice formed on dust when the climate was different due to changes in the tilt of the Mars pole.[6] The scallops are typically tens of meters deep and from a few hundred to a few thousand meters across. They can be almost circular or elongated. Some appear to have coalesced, thereby causing a large heavily pitted terrain to form. The process of producing the terrain may begin with sublimation from a crack because there are often polygon cracks where scallops form.[3][4]

Dust Devil Tracks

Many areas on Mars experience the passage of giant dust devils. A thin coating of fine bright dust covers most of the Martian surface. When a dust devil goes by it blows away the coating and exposes the underlying dark surface creating tracks. Dust devils have been seen from the ground and from orbit. They have even blown the dust off of the solar panels of the two Rovers on Mars, thereby greatly extending their lives.[7] The twin Rovers were designed to last for 3 months, instead they have lasted more than six years and are still going after over 8 years. The pattern of the tracks have been shown to change every few months.[8] TA study that combined data from the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) and the Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) found that some large dust devils on Mars have a diameter of 700 meters and last at least 26 minutes.[9] The image below of Russel Crater shows changes in dust devil tracks over a period of only three months, as documented by HiRISE. Other Dust Devil Tracks are visible in the picture of Frento Vallis.


Impact craters generally have a rim with ejecta around them, in contrast volcanic craters usually do not have a rim or ejecta deposits. As craters get larger (greater than 10 km in diameter) they usually have a central peak.[10] The peak is caused by a rebound of the crater floor following the impact.[11] Sometimes craters will display layers. Craters can show us what lies deep under the surface.

Why are Craters important?

The density of impact craters is used to determine the surface ages of Mars and other solar system bodies. [12] The older the surface, the more craters present. Crater shapes can reveal the presence of ground ice.

The area around craters may be rich in minerals. On Mars, heat from the impact melts ice in the ground. Water from the melting ice dissolves minerals, and then deposits them in cracks or faults that were produced with the impact. This process, called hydrothermal alteration, is a major way in which ore deposits are produced. The area around Martian craters may be rich in useful ores for the future colonization of Mars. [13] Studies on the earth have documented that cracks are produced and that secondary minerals veins are deposited in the cracks.[14] [15] [16] Images from satellites orbiting Mars have detected cracks near impact craters.[17] Great amounts of heat are produced during impacts. The area around a large impact may take hundreds of thousands of years to cool.[18] [19] [20] Many craters once contained lakes. [21] [22] [23] Because some crater floors show deltas, we know that water had to be present for some time. Dozens of deltas have been spotted on Mars. [24] Deltas form when sediment is washed in from a stream entering a quiet body of water. It takes a bit of time to form a delta, so the presence of a delta is exciting; it means water was there for a time, maybe for many years. Primitive organisms may have developed in such lakes; hence, some craters may be prime targets for the search for evidence of life on the Red Planet. [25]

Sand Dunes



Gullies on steep slopes are found in certain regions of Mars. Many ideas have been advanced to explain them. Formation by running water when the climate was different is a popular idea. Recently, because changes in gullies have been seen since HiRISE has been orbiting Mars, it is thought that they may be formed by chunks of dry ice moving down slope during spring time. Gullies are one of the most interesting discoveries made by orbiting space craft.[26] [27] [28] [29]


  1. ^ Davies, M.E.; Batson, R.M.; Wu, S.S.C. “Geodesy and Cartography” in Kieffer, H.H.; Jakosky, B.M.; Snyder, C.W.; Matthews, M.S., Eds. Mars. University of Arizona Press: Tucson, 1992.
  2. ^ Mars Space Flight Facility (17 March 2004). "Exhumed Crater (Released 17 March 2004)". Arizona State University. Retrieved 19 December 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Lefort, A. et al. 2010. Scalloped terrains in the Peneus and Amphitrites Paterae region of Mars as observed by HiRISE. Icarus: 205. 259-268.
  4. ^ a b
  5. ^ Hartmann, W. 2003. A Traveler's Guide to Mars. Workman Publishing. NY, NY.
  6. ^ Head, J. et al. 2003. Recent ice ages on Mars. Nature:426. 797-802.
  7. ^ "Press Release Images: Spirit".  
  8. ^ "Ken Edgett". National Aeronautics and Space Administration. 2001. Retrieved 19 December 2011. 
  9. ^ Reiss, D. et al. 2011. Multitemporal observations of identical active dust devils on Mars with High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) and Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC). Icarus. 215:358-369.
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  11. ^ Hugh H. Kieffer (1992). Mars. University of Arizona Press.  
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  14. ^ Osinski, G, J. Spray, and P. Lee. 2001. Impact-induced hydrothermal activity within the Haughton impact structure, arctic Canada: Generation of a transient, warm, wet oasis. Meteoritics & Planetary Science: 36. 731-745
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  16. ^ Pirajno, F. 2000. Ore Deposits and Mantle Plumes. Kluwer Academic Publishers. Dordrecht, The Netherlands
  17. ^ Head, J. and J. Mustard. 2006. Breccia Dikes and Crater-Related Faults in Impact Craters on Mars: Erosion and Exposure on the Floor of a 75-km Diameter Crater at the Dichotomy Boundary. Special Issue on Role of Volatiles and Atmospheres on Martian Impact Craters Meteoritics & Planetary Science
  18. ^ name=""
  19. ^ Segura, T, O. Toon, A. Colaprete, K. Zahnle. 2001. Effects of Large Impacts on Mars: Implications for River Formation. American Astronomical Society, DPS meeting#33, #19.08
  20. ^ Segura, T, O. Toon, A. Colaprete, K. Zahnle. 2002. Environmental Effects of Large Impacts on Mars. Science: 298, 1977-1980.
  21. ^ Cabrol, N. and E. Grin. 2001. The Evolution of Lacustrine Environments on Mars: Is Mars Only Hydrologically Dormant? Icarus: 149, 291-328.
  22. ^ Fassett, C. and J. Head. 2008. Open-basin lakes on Mars: Distribution and implications for Noachian surface and subsurface hydrology. Icarus: 198, 37-56.
  23. ^ Fassett, C. and J. Head. 2008. Open-basin lakes on Mars: Implications of valley network lakes for the nature of Noachian hydrology.
  24. ^ Wilson, J. A. Grant and A. Howard. 2013. INVENTORY OF EQUATORIAL ALLUVIAL FANS AND DELTAS ON MARS. 44th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference.
  25. ^ Newsom H. , Hagerty J., Thorsos I. 2001. Location and sampling of aqueous and hydrothermal deposits in martian impact craters. Astrobiology: 1, 71-88.
  26. ^
  27. ^
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  29. ^

See also

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