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Thursday, July 26, 2012

A catalog of Martian impact craters

Stuart Robbins and Brian Hynek of the University of Colorado at Boulder have compiled a database of all Martian craters at least a kilometer in diameter. This undertaking took four years of assembling data from the various Mars orbiters and landers and resulted in a giant catalog.

Besides size and location, details about shape and structure are listed for each of the 384,343 craters in the catalog. As Robbins says:
Our crater database contains both rim heights and crater depths, which can help us differentiate between craters that have been filled in versus those that have eroded by different processes over time, giving us a better idea about long-term changes on the planet’s surface.
The authors are making that database available to the public. They also have data on about 250,000 more craters not included in the catalog that they’ll provide to anyone who asks. Yes, that means that there have been well over 600,000 asteroid impacts on Mars, and those are just the ones that haven't eroded away yet. Wonder what that looks like? Your wish is my command: