Nicholson (Martian crater)
|Eponym||Seth Barnes Nicholson|
Nicholson is a crater on Mars centered at 0.1° N and 164.5° W. It is 62 miles wide (100 km), and located in the Memnonia quadrangle. Nicholson is a good marker for the equator as it sits almost directly on the martian equator. It is named after Seth Barnes Nicholson, an American astronomer.
Nicholson is notable for its central peak, which rises in a high mound 3.5 km above the crater floor. This rounded peak is riddled with channels, which may have been eroded by wind or even water.
Dark Slope Streaks
Many places on Mars show dark streaks on steep slopes like crater walls. It seems that the youngest streaks are dark; they become lighter with age. Often they begin as a small narrow spot then widen and extend downhill for hundreds of meters. They have been seen to travel around obstacles, like boulders. Several ideas have been advanced to explain the streaks. Some involve water or even the growth of organisms. . It is most generally accepted that they represent avalanches of dust. The streaks appear in areas covered with dust. When a thin layer of dust is removed, the underlying surface is dark. Much of the Martian surface is covered with dust. Fine dust settles out of the atmosphere covering everything. We know a lot about this dust because the solar panels of the Mars Rovers get covered with dust, thus reducing the electrical energy. The power of the Rovers has been restored many times by the wind, in the form of dust devils, cleaning the panels and boosting the power. Dust storms are frequent, especially when the spring season begins in the southern hemisphere. At that time, Mars is 40% closer to the sun. The orbit of Mars is much more elliptical then the Earth's. That is the difference between the farthest point from the sun and the closest point to the sun is very great for Mars, but only slight for the Earth. Also, every few years, the entire planet is engulfed in a global dust storm. When NASA's Mariner 9 craft arrived there, nothing could be seen through the dust storm. Other global dust storms have also been observed, since that time. Dark streaks can be seen in the image below of Nicholson Crater Mound that was taken by HiRISE.
Nicholson Crater Mound with dark streaks, as seen by HiRISE.
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