Determination of Mars crater geometric data: Insights from high-resolution digital elevation models

Peter J. MOUGINIS-MARK1, Joseph BOYCE1, Virgil L. SHARPTON2, and Harold GARBEIL1
Meteoritics & Planetary Science (in Press) Link to Article [DOI: 10.1111/maps.12895]
1Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii 96822, USA
2Lunar and Planetary Institute, Houston, Texas 77058, USA
Published by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons

We review the methods and data sets used to determine morphometric parameters related to the depth (e.g., rim height and cavity depth) and diameter of Martian craters over the past ~45 yr, and discuss the limitations of shadow length measurements, photoclinometry, Earth-based radar, and laser altimetry. We demonstrate that substantial errors are introduced into crater depth and diameter measurements that are inherent in the use of 128th-degree gridded Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter (MOLA) topography. We also show that even the use of the raw MOLA Precision Engineering Data Record (PEDR) data can introduce errors in the measurement of craters a few kilometers in diameter. These errors are related to the longitudinal spacing of the MOLA profiles, the along-track spacing of the individual laser shots, and the MOLA spot size. Stereophotogrammetry provides an intrinsically more accurate method for measuring depth and diameter of craters on Mars when applied to high-resolution image pairs. Here, we use 20 stereo Context Camera (CTX) image pairs to create digital elevation models (DEMs) for 25 craters in the diameter range 1.5–25.6 km and cover the latitude range of 25° S to 42° N. These DEMs have a spatial scale of ~24 m per pixel. Six additional craters, 1.5–3.1 km in diameter, were studied using publically available DEMs produced from High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) image pairs. Depth/diameter and rim height were determined for each crater, as well as the azimuthal variation of crater rim height in 1-degree increments. These data indicate that morphologically fresh Martian craters at these diameters are significantly deeper for a given size than previously reported using Viking and MOLA data, most likely due to the improvement in spatial resolution provided by the CTX and HiRISE data.

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