Observations of fresh impact craters by the Opportunity rover and in high-resolution orbital images constrain the latest phase of granule ripple migration at Meridiani Planum to have occurred between ∼50 ka and ∼200 ka. Opportunity explored the fresh Resolution crater cluster and Concepción crater that are superposed on and thus younger than the ripples. These fresh craters have small dark pebbles scattered across their surfaces, which are most likely fragments of the impactor, suggesting that the dark pebbles and cobbles observed by Opportunity at Meridiani Planum are a lag of impactor-derived material (either meteoritic or secondary impactors from elsewhere on Mars). Two larger, fresh-rayed craters in Meridiani Planum bracket ripple migration; secondaries from Ada crater are clearly superposed on and secondaries from an unnamed 0.84 km diameter crater have been modified and overprinted by the ripples. Three methods were used to estimate the age of these craters and thus when the latest phase of ripple migration occurred. The inactivity of the ripples over the past ∼50 ka at Meridiani is also consistent with other evidence for the stability of the ripples, the lack of observed eolian bed forms in craters that formed in the past 20 years, and little evidence for much dune motion in the past 30 yr on Mars. Observations of crater morphology and their interaction with the ripples allow the development of a general time scale for craters in Meridiani Planum over the past million years.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geochemistry and Petrology
- Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
- Space and Planetary Science