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High Resolution view of Victoria Crater on Mars Answered

NASA has released a beautiful high resolution picture of Victoria Crater (below) taken from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

If you zoom in on the full resolution image, you can see the Opportunity rover's tracks and stopping points (faint lines with bright dots) around the left part of the rim.

The photo was taken in July 2009, so many of Opportunity's tracks have already been obscured by wind and sand.


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4 years ago

The pictures of Victoria crater expose the feebleness of the official “explanation.” The crater “has a distinctive scalloped shape to its rim, caused by erosion and downhill movement of crater wall material.”
The crater actually looks quite fresh, with very little debris and no
sign of the large heaps of rubble to be expected at the bases of the
large scallops. If the rubble has been covered by wind blown sand, we
have two problems. First, there is practically no air on Mars to shift
sand grains. And second, there is a radial pattern on the floor of the
crater that is inexplicable by wind-blown dust or sand.

So what does that make of the floor of the crater “occupied by a striking field of sand dunes?”
They look like no field of dunes on Earth. Dunes have a difference of
slope across their ridges. And to form “network dunes” requires episodes
of winds blowing steadily from different directions. They resemble
instead shallow intersecting bowl-shaped depressions...

Victoria crater appears to be a short-duration anode scar, or “spark”
crater, where melting is insignificant. In laboratory experiments it is
found that the anode spark scar on a “contaminated” surface develops
many arc “spots” at the center of a roughly circular scar. In a very
short time the central arc spots move out to form a ring. The spots
enlarge and join into a ring. For a time the entire arc current passes
through the annular ring. If it were to continue, melting would occur,
obliterating the fine scalloped structure of the crater wall. In
experiments there may be a hundred or more spots.

I would suggest that the “sand dunes” are the result of the central
arc spots, forming overlapping circular depressions (see diagram above).
Certainly, the orthogonal ridges have more in common with a corona
discharge pattern than they do with sand dunes. They may therefore be
solid, glassified sand, rather like that found in dry soil following a
lightning strike. Such glassified sand is known as a “fulgurite.” It is
noteworthy that the Apollo astronauts found clumps of glass-crusted soil
near the centers of small (1 to 5 foot) craters on the lunar surface.
It raised a stir because the glass was a surprise. In addition,
orthogonal lineaments in the lunar soil were reported. They cannot have
been there for long.

The blast effect of the cosmic “spark” together with the electrical
stripping of ionized surface matter, produced the clean crater and
surrounds. The sudden outward movement of the arc spots may have formed
the radial pattern on the crater floor. The scalloped crater wall is
simply the erosion signature of the irregular ring of enlarged anode

Wal Thornhill



11 years ago

That's really good to look at - wind patterning in the bottom? L


Reply 11 years ago

Presumably; dunes and whatnot. You can see correlations with some of the endpoints with the "alluvial" (landslides, not water, of course) fans coming down the sides of the crater.

You'd probably need to look up whatever papers have come out on the crater to be sure (I'd guess they would be in Icarus, but Google Scholar ought to find everything).


Reply 11 years ago

I might try, looks like tripe?



Reply 11 years ago

That is fascinating; thanks for the pic! I suspect there are some general principles at work there (density effects leading to nearest-neighbor avoidance, characteristing length scales for growth, etc.). The folks in Santa Fe would have a field day with that.