Elysium Planitia, located in the Elysium and Aeolis quadrangles, is a broad plain that straddles the equator of Mars, centered at . It lies to the south of the volcanic province of Elysium, the second largest volcanic region on the planet, after Tharsis. Elysium contains the major volcanoes Elysium Mons, Albor Tholus and Hecates Tholus. Another more ancient shield volcano, Apollinaris Mons, is situated just to the south of eastern Elysium Planitia.
MOLA topographical map of Elysium Planitia.
The largest craters in Elysium Planitia are Eddie, Lockyer, and Tombaugh. The planitia also has river valleys—one of which, Athabasca Valles may be one of the youngest on Mars. On the north east side is an elongated depression called Orcus Patera, and this and some of the eastern plains were imaged in the 1965 Mariner 4 flyby.
A 2005 photo of a locale in Elysium Planitia at 5°N, 150°E by the Mars Express spacecraft shows what may be ash-covered water ice. The volume of ice is estimated to be 800 km (500 mi) by 900 km (560 mi) in size and 45 m (148 ft) deep, similar in size and depth to the North Sea. The ice is thought to be the remains of water floods from the Cerberus Fossae fissures about 2 to 10 million years ago. The surface of the area is broken into 'plates' like broken ice floating on a lake (see below). Impact crater counts show that the plates are up to 1 million years older than the gap material, showing that the area solidified much too slowly for the material to be basaltic lava.
NASA's InSight mission landed on Elysium Planitia on November 26, 2018. It took off from Earth on the 5th May 2018. The probe will study the internal structure of Mars and by so doing improve understanding of the planet's evolution.
In March 2017, scientists from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory announced that the landing site had been selected. It is located in western Elysium Planitia at . The landing site is about 600 km (370 mi) north from where the Curiosity rover is operating in Gale Crater.
Wide view of fractured ground, as seen by HiRISE under HiWish program
Wide view of layered buttes and small mesas, as seen by HiRISE under HiWish program Some dark slope streaks are visible.
Layered mesas, as seen by HiRISE under HiWish program Dark slope streaks are also visible.
Layers in old crater rim, in Marte Vallis as seen by HiRISE under HiWish program
Close view of layers from previous image, as seen by HiRISE under HiWish program Some dark slope streaks are visible.
Mounds with layers, as seen by HiRISE under HiWish program. Location is east of Gale Crater in the Aeolis quadrangle.
Mound showing layers at the base, as seen by HiRISE under HiWish program. Location is east of Gale Crater in the Aeolis quadrangle.
Yardangs showing layers, as seen by HiRISE under HiWish program. Location is east of Gale Crater in the Aeolis quadrangle.
Lava flow and dark slope streaks, as seen by HiRISE under HiWish program
Interactive Mars mapEdit
- "Elysium Planitia". Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature. USGS Astrogeology Science Center. Retrieved 2018-05-07.
- Williams, Dave; Friedlander, Jay. "The Orcus Patera region on Mars". Mars - Mariner 4. NASA. Retrieved December 20, 2015.
- Young, Kelly (2005-02-25). "'Pack ice' suggests frozen sea on Mars". New Scientist. Retrieved 2007-01-30.
- John B. Murray, JB; Muller, JP; Neukum, G; Werner, SC; Van Gasselt, S; Hauber, E; Markiewicz, WJ; Head Jw, 3rd; et al. (17 March 2007). "Evidence ... for a frozen sea close to Mars' equator". Nature. 434 (7031): 352–355. Bibcode:2005Natur.434..352M. doi:10.1038/nature03379. PMID 15772653.
- "Landing Status | Landing – NASA's InSight Mars Lander". NASA's InSight Mars Lander.
- Golombek, M.; et al. (2017). Selection of the 2018 Insight Landing Site. 48th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. 20–24 March 2017. The Woodlands, Texas. Bibcode:2017LPI....48.1515G. LPI Contribution No. 1964, id.1515.
- "InSight's Landing Site: Elysium Planitia". NASA. 25 January 2018. Retrieved 1 February 2018.