Utopia Planitia

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Utopia Planitia
Mars Viking 21i093.png
PIA00571: Ice on Mars Utopia Planitia (NASA/JPL)
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 (Latin: "Nowhere Plain") is the largest recognized impact basin on Mars and in the Solar System with an estimated diameter of 3300 km,[1] 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.[2] 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.[3][4] A hard surface crust is formed by solutions of minerals moving up through soil and evaporating at the surface.[5] 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.[6]

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.[7] The USS Enterprise-D, USS Defiant, USS Sao Paulo, USS Voyager were built there.[7]

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]

Other features in Utopia Planitia[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 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. 
  2. ^ "Utopia Planitia". Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature. USGS Astrogeology Science Center. Retrieved 2015-03-10.  External link in |work= (help)
  3. ^ Mutch, T. et al. 1976. The Surface of Mars: The View from the Viking 2 Lander. Science: 194. 1277–1283.
  4. ^ Hartmann, W. 2003. A Traveler's Guide to Mars. Workman Publishing. NY NY.
  5. ^ Arvidson, R. A. Binder, and K. Jones. 1976. The Surface of Mars. Scientific American: 238. 76–89.
  6. ^ Sejourne, A. et al. 2012. Evidence of an eolian ice-rich and stratified permafrost in Utopia Planitia, Mars. Icarus. 60:248-254.
  7. ^ a b Okuda, Michael; Denise Okuda & Debbie Mirek (1999). The Star Trek Encyclopedia. Pocket Books. ISBN 0-671-53609-5. 
  8. ^ Dundas, C., S. Bryrne, A. McEwen. 2015. Modeling the development of martian sublimation thermokarst landforms. Icarus: 262, 154-169.

External links[edit]