Of all the places I’d want to visit on Mars, this would be high on my list. After travelling to the bottom of Hellas Planitia (for the thick atmosphere and possibly finding liquid water) and the summit of Olympus Mons (for the view), I’d be sure to have a scout around Ariadnes Colles, in the southern hemisphere (pictured above).
The Ariadnes Colles region may not be a household name, but looking at these new high resolution images coming from the Mars Express orbiter, I can’t help but be impressed…
The detail in the image captured by the European Space Agency’s Mars Express (using the High Resolution Stereo Camera) shows various features between 1-10 km wide. Looking almost like a complex of broken glass, the detail in the landscape is amazing.
According to planetary scientists, such fragmented features may have been caused by the rapid flow of water, making the surface rock slump and fragment, but this particular region of the Red Planet is not thought to have been a source of significant amounts of water. It seems more likely that these chaotic shapes are actually shaped by the Martian winds.
To the top right of the image above, there is also a bonus crater, approximately 30 km in diameter (and 1.2 km deep), with a secondary crater (10 km diameter) inside. The larger crater is approximately the same surface area as a city, about that of Hamburg, Germany.
This is a fascinating region of the Martian surface, where a variety of features enrich the scene. I might even visit Ariadnes Colles before I decide to make an attempt at scaling Olympus Mons after all…
Source: Universe Today (Nancy Atkinson)