(Released 3 May 2002)
The eastern rim of this unnamed crater in Southern Arabia Terra is very degraded (beaten up). This indicates that this crater is very ancient and has been subjected to erosion and subsequent bombardment from other impactors such as asteroids and comets. One of these later (younger) craters is seen in the upper right of this image superimposed upon the older crater rim material. Note that this smaller younger crater rim is sharper and more intact than the older crater rim. This region is also mantled with a blanket of dust. This dust mantle causes the underlying topography to take on a more subdued appearance.
When you think of Arabia, you probably think of hot deserts and a lot of profitable oil reserves. On Mars, however, Southern Arabia Terra is a cold place of cratered terrain. This almost frothy-looking image is the badly battered edge of an ancient crater, which has suffered both erosion and bombardment from asteroids, comets, or other impacting bodies over the long course of its existence. A blanket of dust has also settled over the region, which gives the otherwise rugged landscape a soft and more subdued appearance.
The small, round crater (upper left) seems almost gemlike in its setting against the larger crater ring. But this companionship is no easy romance. Whatever formed the small crater clearly whammed into the larger crater rim at some point, obliterating part of its edge. You can tell the small crater was formed after the first and more devastating impact, because it is laid over the other larger crater. How much younger is the small one? Well, its rim is also much sharper and more intact, which gives a sense that it is probably far more youthful than the very degraded, ancient crater.