See Mars’ Moreux crater in new images from Mars Express

Known for its wide swathes of rippling, textured, gently sloping dunes, Mars’ Terra Sabaea region is home to many fascinating geological features – including the prominent Moreux crater, the star of a new image from ESA’s Mars Express.
Known for its wide swathes of rippling, textured, gently sloping dunes, Mars’ Terra Sabaea region is home to many fascinating geological features — including the prominent Moreux crater, the star of a new image from ESA’s Mars Express. ESA/DLR/FU Berlin, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

The European Space Agency (ESA)’s Mars Express spacecraft has captured images of the dark Moreux crater on the planet’s surface, an area of geological interest and striking geographical features.

“Many of the features, such as dunes and flows, surrounding the central peak and southern region of Moreux crater (to the left of the image) appear to have been formed by ice,” the ESA wrote in a blog post. “This is thought to have occurred in the form of substantial episodes of glacial activity over the past few million years. Many other features show signs of wind erosion or having been formed via wind-related processes — most notably, the dunes covering the crater floor. These dunes are largely sickle-shaped (barchanoid), and reveal much about wind direction within and across the crater.”

A second image shows a perspective view of the same crater. The central peak of the crater reaches almost two kilometers (1.2 miles) in height, while the crater itself is three kilometers (1.9 miles) deep.

This image shows a feature on Mars’ surface named Moreux crater. It comprises data gathered on 30 October 2019 during orbit 20014. The ground resolution is approximately 16 m/pixel and the images are centred at about 44°E/42°N.
This image shows a feature on Mars’ surface named Moreux crater. It comprises data gathered on 30 October 2019 during orbit 20014. The ground resolution is approximately 16 m/pixel and the images are centered at about 44°E/42°N. ESA/DLR/FU Berlin, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

The variety of colors in the images reflect the different materials which comprise the crater. The dunes surrounding the crater, which are pale yellows and oranges, are composed of sandy materials. Other areas are rich in rock-forming minerals such as pyroxene and olivine, which contain magnesium and iron which have a darker shade.

Further color differences come from the presence of particles like sand and ash, including basaltic and volcanic sand, which have been swept into the crater by the Martian winds. The dunes on the floor of the crater were also formed by the wind, and are sickle-shaped to reflect the direction in which the wind blows across the crater.

The images were captures using the High Resolution Stereo Camera instrument on the Mars Express, which has previously captured images of an icy crater on the planet’s surface and the boundary between the planet’s north and south hemispheres.

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