A dramatic 3-D view rendered from Mars orbiter data reveals the highs and lows of Mars' Mojave Crater.
In the new image of a portion of the crater's walls, based on terrain modeling from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter data, the vertical dimensions are exaggerated by three times compared to the horizontal dimensions. The resulting images look like the view from a low-altitude aircraft.
This enhanced view shows material that has ponded and is backed up behind massive blocks of bedrock in the crater's terrace walls. Hundreds of Martian impact craters have similar ponding with pitted surfaces.
Scientists believe these "pitted ponds" are created when material melted by the crater-causing impacts is captured behind the wall terraces.
Mojave Crater, one of the freshest large craters on Mars, is about 37 miles (60 kilometers) in diameter. Analysis of the crater suggests it may be as young as about 10 million years, very young for a crater of this size. Because it is so fresh, it helps scientists better understand the features of other Martian craters.
Other craters of this size generally have already been affected by erosion, sediment and other geologic process. Fresh craters like Mojave reveal information about the impact process, including ejecta, melting and deposits.
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