Bedrock Exposures on the Floor of Bakhuysen Crater

This HiRISE image shows an exposure of bedrock on the floor of Bakhuysen Crater, a 150-kilometer diameter impact crater in Noachis Terra. The bedrock is highly fragmented and fractured. The distinct false-color in the image may indicate that the tan-colored, fractured bedrock may have been altered in the presence of water.

The location of this bedrock and context of its surroundings give us significant clues to the possible water-involved origin of these materials. Numerous channels are carved into the rim of the crater. At this particular location, one such channel has deposited a smooth-textured, fan-like deposit onto the crater floor. The bedrock is now exposed at the edge of this fan-like deposit , which overlies a heavily pitted surface to the north.

The pitted surface likely represents an older impact-related deposit, possibly containing melt and rock fragments produced during the crater’s formation. If the fan formed soon after, while these deposits were still hot, the heat and any available fluids may have altered materials and were quickly transported and deposited within the crater.

This interpretation of the origin of these deposits may be further tested through data returned by HiRISE’s sister instrument, CRISM , a spectrometer also aboard MRO.

Written by: Christy Caudill, Livio Tornabene, Ian Pritchard, Eric Pilles (audio: Tre Gibbs)   (18 May 2016)

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Image: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona