Planetary Sciences Editors' Highlights

Self-Repairing Blemishes on the Surface of Mars

A new study of small impact craters at Mars landing sites suggests that active processes degrade and infill depressions at similar rates in locations separated by thousands of kilometers.

Source: Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets


Weather on Earth is characterized by microclimates, which are differences in the weather conditions over short distances caused by local conditions such as elevation and amount of sunlight received. Mars, in contrast, appears to experience similar climates over long distances.

Such is the implication of Weitz et al. [2020] who examine the evolution of the Martian landscape at two landing sites, NASA’s Sprit rover and InSight lander, that are separated by thousands of kilometers. The study compared the shape of small impact craters or hallows at the two landing sites, and also used returned images to measure the size and shape distribution of small rocks present at the surface of the Martian soil.

The similarities in morphology and physical properties of hollows and rocks at two different landing sites suggest current environmental conditions that degrade and infill impact craters are comparable and pervasive across Mars.

Citation: Weitz, C. M., Grant, J. A., Golombek, M. P., Warner, N. H., Hauber, E., Ansan, V., et al. [2020]. Comparison of InSight Homestead hollow to hollows at the Spirit landing site. Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, 125, e2020JE006435.

—Bradley J. Thomson, Editor, JGR: Planets

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