Hesperia PlanumThis THEMIS visible image shows a close-up view of the ridged plains in Hesperia Planum. This region is the classic locality for martian surfaces that formed in the "middle ages" of martian history. The absolute age of these surfaces is not well known. However, using the abundance of impact craters, it is possible to determine that the Hesperian plains are younger than the ancient cratered terrains that dominate the southern hemisphere, and are older than low-lying plains of the northern hemisphere. In this image it is possible to see that this surface has a large number of 1-3 km diameter craters, indicating that this region is indeed very old and has subjected to a long period of bombardment. A large (80 km diameter) crater occurs just to the north (above) this image. The material that was thrown out onto the surface when the crater was formed ("crater ejecta") can be seen at the top of the THEMIS image. This ejecta material has been heavily eroded and modified since its formation, but there are hints of lobate flow features within the ejecta. Lobate ejecta deposits are thought to indicate that ice was present beneath the surface when the crater was formed, leading to these unusual lobate features. Many of the Hesperian plains are characterized by ridged surfaces. These ridges can be easily seen in the MOLA context image, and several can be seen cutting across the lower portion of the THEMIS image. These "wrinkle" ridges are thought to be the result of compression (squeezing) of the lavas that form these plains.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU