"The surface of the Earth is the shore of the cosmic ocean... Recently, we've managed to wade a little way out, and the water seems inviting." - Carl Sagan
A radiating beauty on Mars
Exceptional structures deposited and shaped by water and winds adorn these interlocking craters and sculpt radiating patterns in the sands of Mars.
This mosaic, which focuses on Becquerel crater in Arabia Terra, is composed of four images taken by the high-resolution stereo camera on ESA’s Mars Express. Arabia Terra is in the transition zone between the southern highlands and the northern lowlands of Mars.
It is the largest crater in this scene, with a diameter of 167 km, and drops to a depth of about 3.5 km below the surrounding terrain. A second large crater lies within Becquerel, punching even deeper into the surface.
The mound rises about 1 km above the crater floor and comprises hundreds of layers of light-toned sediments, each just a few metres thick, made of sulphate-bearing rocks. On Earth, sulphates are most often formed via the evaporation of water, so the presence of these minerals in Becquerel crater suggests that water may once have pooled here in a vast crater lake, before evaporating away.
Image credit: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum)