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Lyot (Martian crater)

Lyot is a large crater in the Vastitas Borealis region of Mars, located at 50.8° north latitude and 330.7° west longitude within the Ismenius Lacus quadrangle. It is 236 km in diameter. Its name refers to Bernard Lyot, a French astronomer (1897–1952).[1]

Lyot Crater
Lyot Mars Crater Dunes.JPG
Lyot Crater Dunes, as seen by HiRISE. Click on image to see light toned deposits and dust devil tracks.
RegionIsmenius Lacus quadrangle
Coordinates50°48′N 330°42′W / 50.8°N 330.7°W / 50.8; -330.7Coordinates: 50°48′N 330°42′W / 50.8°N 330.7°W / 50.8; -330.7
Diameter236 km
EponymBernard Lyot, French astronomer (1897–1952)

Lyot stands out on the flat plains of Vastitas Borealis, which is generally flat and smooth with few large craters.[2] Lyot is the deepest point in Mars's northern hemisphere.[3] South are the Protonilus Mensae and further southeast are Protonilus Mensae. Also west is the smaller Micoud and east-southeast is Moreux. Lyot also features a central peak in the middle.

Research published in 2009 describes evidence for liquid water in Lyot in the past.[4]

Many channels have been found near Lyot Crater. Research, published in 2017, concluded that the channels were made from water released when the hot ejecta landed on a layer of ice that was 20 to 300 meters thick. Calculations suggest that the ejecta would have had a temperature of at least 250 degrees Fahrenheit. The valleys seem to start from beneath the ejecta near the outer edge of the ejecta. One evidence for this idea is that there are few secondary craters nearby. Few secondary craters were formed because most landed on ice and did not affect the ground below. The ice accumulated in the area when the climate was different. The tilt or obliquity of the axis changes frequently. During periods of greater tilt, ice from the poles is redistributed to the mid-latitudes. The existence of these channels is unusual because although Mars used to have water in rivers, lakes, and an ocean, these features have been dated to the Noachian and Hesperian periods—4 to 3 billion years ago.[5][6][7]


Former riversEdit

Images from Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter show valleys carved by rivers on the floor of Lyot Crater. Scientists are excited because the rivers seem to have formed more recently than others on Mars; water could have flowed in them only 1.25 million years ago. The source of the water is believed to have been ice from nearby glaciers. The river valleys are over 250 meters wide and tens of kilometers long.[8]

Dust devil tracksEdit

Many areas on Mars, including Lyot, experience the passage of giant dust devils. A thin coating of fine bright dust covers most of the Martian surface. When a dust devil goes by it blows away the coating and exposes the underlying dark surface. These dust devils have been seen from the ground and high overhead from orbit.


Interactive Mars mapEdit

Acidalia PlanitiaAcidalia PlanitiaAlba MonsAmazonis PlanitiaAonia TerraArabia TerraArcadia PlanitiaArcadia PlanitiaArgyre PlanitiaElysium MonsElysium PlanitiaHellas PlanitiaHesperia PlanumIsidis PlanitiaLucas PlanumLyot (crater)Noachis TerraOlympus MonsPromethei TerraRudaux (crater)Solis PlanumTempe TerraTerra CimmeriaTerra SabaeaTerra SirenumTharsis MontesUtopia PlanitiaValles MarinerisVastitas BorealisVastitas Borealis 
 Interactive imagemap of the global topography of Mars. Hover your mouse to see the names of over 25 prominent geographic features, and click to link to them. Coloring of the base map indicates relative elevations, based on data from the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter on NASA's Mars Global Surveyor. Reds and pinks are higher elevation (+3 km to +8 km); yellow is 0 km; greens and blues are lower elevation (down to −8 km). Whites (>+12 km) and browns (>+8 km) are the highest elevations. Axes are latitude and longitude; Poles are not shown.
(See also: Mars Rovers map) (viewdiscuss)

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Lyot". Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature. USGS Astrogeology Research Program.
  2. ^ U.S. department of the Interior U.S. Geological Survey, Topographic Map of the Eastern Region of Mars M 15M 0/270 2AT, 1991
  3. ^
  4. ^ Dickson, J. L.; Fassett, C. I.; Head, J. W. (2009). "Amazonian‐aged fluvial valley systems in a climatic microenvironment on Mars: Melting of ice deposits on the interior of Lyot Crater". Geophysical Research Letters. 36 (8). Bibcode:2009GeoRL..3608201D. doi:10.1029/2009GL037472.
  5. ^ Weiss, David K. "Extensive Amazonian-aged fluvial channels on Mars: Evaluating the role of Lyot crater in their formation". Geophysical Research Letters. 44: 5336–5344. Bibcode:2017GeoRL..44.5336W. doi:10.1002/2017GL073821.
  6. ^ Weiss, D.; et al. (2017). "Extensive Amazonian-aged fluvial channels on Mars: Evaluating the role of Lyot crater in their formation". Geophysical Research Letters. 44: 5336–5344. Bibcode:2017GeoRL..44.5336W. doi:10.1002/2017GL073821.
  7. ^
  8. ^

External linksEdit