Utopia Planitia

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Mars Viking 21i093.png
Viking 2 lander view of ice in Utopia Planitia
Location Northeast of Isidis Planitia, northwest of Aetheria
Coordinates 46°42′N 117°30′E / 46.7°N 117.5°E / 46.7; 117.5Coordinates: 46°42′N 117°30′E / 46.7°N 117.5°E / 46.7; 117.5

Utopia Planitia (Greek and Latin: "Never-never land Plain"--loosely, the plain of paradise) is a large plain[1] within Utopia, the largest recognized impact basin on Mars[a] and in the Solar System with an estimated diameter of 3300 km,[3] 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 46°42′N 117°30′E / 46.7°N 117.5°E / 46.7; 117.5.[1] 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.[4][5] A hard surface crust is formed by solutions of minerals moving up through soil and evaporating at the surface.[6] 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.[7]

In popular culture[edit]

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.[8] The USS Enterprise-D, USS Defiant, USS Sao Paulo, USS Voyager were built there.[8]

The Flaming Lips song "Approaching Pavonis Mons by Balloon (Utopia Planitia)" was released in 2002 on the album Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots.

Pedestal craters[edit]

Main article: Pedestal craters

Scalloped topography[edit]

Scalloped topography is common in the mid-latitudes of Mars, between 45° and 60° north and south. It is particularly prominent in the region of Utopia Planitia[9][10] in the northern hemisphere and in the region of Peneus and Amphitrites Patera[11][12] in the southern hemisphere. Such topography consists of shallow, rimless depressions with scalloped edges, commonly referred to as "scalloped depressions" or simply "scallops". Scalloped depressions can be isolated or clustered and sometimes seem to coalesce. A typical scalloped depression displays a gentle equator-facing slope and a steeper pole-facing scarp. This topographic asymmetry is probably due to differences in insolation. Scalloped depressions are believed to form from the removal of subsurface material, possibly interstitial ice, by sublimation. This process may still be happening at present.[13]

Main article: Scalloped topography


Polygonal patterned ground[edit]

Polygonal, patterned ground is quite common in some regions of Mars.[15][16][17][18][19][20][21] It is commonly believed to be caused by the sublimation of ice from the ground. Sublimation is the direct change of solid ice to a gas. This is similar to what happens to dry ice on the Earth. Places on Mars that display polygonal ground may indicate where future colonists can find water ice. Patterned ground forms in a mantle layer, called latitude dependent mantle, that fell from the sky when the climate was different.[22][23][24][25]

Other features in Utopia Planitia[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Officially, Utopia is an albedo feature.[2]


  1. ^ a b "Utopia Planitia". Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature. USGS Astrogeology Science Center. Retrieved 2015-03-10. 
  2. ^ "Utopia". Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature. USGS Astrogeology Science Center. Retrieved 2016-03-26. 
  3. ^ McGill, G. E. (1989-03-10). "Buried topography of Utopia, Mars: Persistence of a giant impact depression". Journal of Geophysical Research. 94: 2753–2759. Bibcode:1989JGR....94.2753M. doi:10.1029/JB094iB03p02753. 
  4. ^ Mutch, T. et al. 1976. The Surface of Mars: The View from the Viking 2 Lander. Science: 194. 1277–1283.
  5. ^ Hartmann, W. 2003. A Traveler's Guide to Mars. Workman Publishing. NY NY.
  6. ^ Arvidson, R. A. Binder, and K. Jones. 1976. The Surface of Mars. Scientific American: 238. 76–89.
  7. ^ Sejourne, A. et al. 2012. Evidence of an eolian ice-rich and stratified permafrost in Utopia Planitia, Mars. Icarus. 60:248-254.
  8. ^ a b Okuda, Michael; Denise Okuda & Debbie Mirek (1999). The Star Trek Encyclopedia. Pocket Books. ISBN 0-671-53609-5. 
  9. ^ Lefort, A.; Russell, P. S.; Thomas, N.; McEwen, A. S.; Dundas, C. M.; Kirk, R. L. (2009). "Observations of periglacial landforms in Utopia Planitia with the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE)". Journal of Geophysical Research. 114 (E4). Bibcode:2009JGRE..11404005L. doi:10.1029/2008JE003264. 
  10. ^ Morgenstern, A; Hauber, E; Reiss, D; van Gasselt, S; Grosse, G; Schirrmeister, L (2007). "Deposition and degradation of a volatile-rich layer in Utopia Planitia, and implications for climate history on Mars" (PDF). Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets. 112 (E6): E06010. Bibcode:2007JGRE..11206010M. doi:10.1029/2006JE002869. 
  11. ^ Lefort, A.; Russell, P.S.; Thomas, N. (2010). "Scalloped terrains in the Peneus and Amphitrites Paterae region of Mars as observed by HiRISE". Icarus. 205 (1): 259. Bibcode:2010Icar..205..259L. doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2009.06.005. 
  12. ^ Zanetti, M.; Hiesinger, H.; Reiss, D.; Hauber, E.; Neukum, G. (2009). "Scalloped Depression Development on Malea Planum and the Southern Wall of the Hellas Basin, Mars" (PDF). Lunar and Planetary Science. 40. p. 2178, abstract 2178. Bibcode:2009LPI....40.2178Z. 
  13. ^ http://hiroc.lpl.arizona.edu/images/PSP?diafotizo.php?ID=PSP_002296_1215
  14. ^ Dundas, C., S. Bryrne, A. McEwen. 2015. Modeling the development of martian sublimation thermokarst landforms. Icarus: 262, 154-169.
  15. ^ http://www.diss.fu-berlin.de/diss/servlets/MCRFileNodeServlet/FUDISS_derivate_000000003198/16_ColdClimateLandforms-13-utopia.pdf?hosts=
  16. ^ Kostama, V.-P., M. Kreslavsky, Head, J. 2006. Recent high-latitude icy mantle in the northern plains of Mars: Characteristics and ages of emplacement. Geophys. Res. Lett. 33 (L11201). doi:10.1029/2006GL025946. K>
  17. ^ Malin, M., Edgett, K. 2001. Mars Global Surveyor Mars Orbiter Camera: Interplanetary cruise through primary mission. J. Geophys. Res. 106 (E10), 23429–23540.
  18. ^ Milliken, R., et al. 2003. Viscous flow features on the surface of Mars: Observations from high-resolution Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) images. J. Geophys. Res. 108 (E6). doi:10.1029/2002JE002005.
  19. ^ Mangold, N. 2005. High latitude patterned grounds on Mars: Classification, distribution and climatic control. Icarus 174, 336–359.
  20. ^ Kreslavsky, M., Head, J. 2000. Kilometer-scale roughness on Mars: Results from MOLA data analysis. J. Geophys. Res. 105 (E11), 26695–26712.
  21. ^ Seibert, N., J. Kargel. 2001. Small-scale martian polygonal terrain: Implications for liquid surface water. Geophys. Res. Lett. 28 (5), 899–902. S
  22. ^ Hecht, M. 2002. Metastability of water on Mars. Icarus 156, 373–386
  23. ^ Mustard, J., et al. 2001. Evidence for recent climate change on Mars from the identification of youthful near-surface ground ice. Nature 412 (6845), 411–414.
  24. ^ Kreslavsky, M.A., Head, J.W., 2002. High-latitude Recent Surface Mantle on Mars: New Results from MOLA and MOC. European Geophysical Society XXVII, Nice.
  25. ^ Head, J.W., Mustard, J.F., Kreslavsky, M.A., Milliken, R.E., Marchant, D.R., 2003. Recent ice ages on Mars. Nature 426 (6968), 797–802.

External links[edit]