|Location||Northeast of Isidis Planitia, northwest of Aetheria|
Utopia Planitia (Latin: "Nowhere Plain") is the largest recognized impact basin on Mars and in the Solar System with an estimated diameter of 3300 km, and is the Martian region where the Viking 2 lander touched down and began exploring on September 3, 1976. It is located at the antipode of Argyre Planitia, centered at . It is in the Casius quadrangle, Amenthes quadrangle, and the Cebrenia quadrangle of Mars.
Many rocks at Utopia Planitia appear perched, as if wind removed much of the soil at their bases. A hard surface crust is formed by solutions of minerals moving up through soil and evaporating at the surface. Some areas of the surface exhibit what is called "scalloped topography", a surface that seems to have been carved out by an ice cream scoop. This surface is thought to have formed by the degradation of an ice-rich permafrost.
In popular culture
In the Star Trek media franchise, Utopia Planitia—both on Mars's surface and in areosynchronous orbit above it—is the site of a major Federation shipyard. The USS Enterprise-D, USS Defiant, USS Sao Paulo, USS Voyager, and USS Enterprise-F were built there.
The Flaming Lips song "Approaching Pavonis Mons by Balloon (Utopia Planitia)" was released in 2002 on the album Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots.
Pedestal crater, as seen by HiRISE under HiWish program The ejecta is not symmetrical around crater because the asteroid came at a low angle out of the North East. The ejecta protected the underlying material from erosion; hence the crater looks elevated. The location is Casius quadrangle.
Close-up of East side (right side) of previous image of pedestal crater showing polygons on lobe. Since the margin of the crater has lobes and polygons, it is believed there is ice under the protective top. Picture taken with HiRISE under HiWish program. Note: this is an enlargement of the previous image.
Other features in Utopia Planitia
Scalloped ground, as seen by HiRISE under HiWish program. A study published in Icarus, found that the landforms of scalloped topography can be made by the subsurface loss of water ice by sublimation under current Martian climate conditions. Their model predicts similar shapes when the ground has large amounts of pure ice, up to many tens of meters in depth.
- McGill, G. E. (1989-03-10). "Buried topography of Utopia, Mars: Persistence of a giant impact depression". Journal of Geophysical Research 94: 2753–2759. doi:10.1029/JB094iB03p02753.
- "Utopia Planitia". Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature. USGS Astrogeology Science Center. Retrieved 2015-03-10. External link in
- Mutch, T. et al. 1976. The Surface of Mars: The View from the Viking 2 Lander. Science: 194. 1277–1283.
- Hartmann, W. 2003. A Traveler's Guide to Mars. Workman Publishing. NY NY.
- Arvidson, R. A. Binder, and K. Jones. 1976. The Surface of Mars. Scientific American: 238. 76–89.
- Sejourne, A. et al. 2012. Evidence of an eolian ice-rich and stratified permafrost in Utopia Planitia, Mars. Icarus. 60:248-254.
- Okuda, Michael; Denise Okuda & Debbie Mirek (1999). The Star Trek Encyclopedia. Pocket Books. ISBN 0-671-53609-5.
- Dundas, C., S. Bryrne, A. McEwen. 2015. Modeling the development of martian sublimation thermokarst landforms. Icarus: 262, 154-169.
- Laser altimetry of the north pole of Mars Utopia Planitia located in upper right
- Google Mars scrollable map – centered on Utopia Planitia
- VL2 Site: Utopia Planitia (NASA)
- PIA00576: Martian Sunrise at Utopia Planitia (NASA Photojournal)
- PIA00530: Frost on Utopia Planitia (NASA Photojournal)
- PIA03796: Utopia Planitia (NASA Photojournal)