Schiaparelli (Martian crater)


Schiaparelli /ˌskjæpəˈrɛli/ is an impact crater on Mars, located near the planet's equator at latitude 3° south and longitude 344° in the Sinus Sabaeus quadrangle. It measures approximately 459 kilometers in diameter and was named after Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli, known for his observations of the Red Planet and his mistranslated term "canali". The name was adopted by IAU's Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature in 1973.[1]

Elevation map of the Martian crater Schiaparelli, as seen by Mars Global Surveyor
Coordinates2°42′S 16°42′E / 2.7°S 16.7°E / -2.7; 16.7Coordinates: 2°42′S 16°42′E / 2.7°S 16.7°E / -2.7; 16.7
QuadrangleSinus Sabaeus
Diameter458.52 km
EponymGiovanni Schiaparelli


A crater within Schiaparelli shows many layers that may have formed by the wind, volcanoes, or deposition under water.

Layers can be a few meters thick or tens of meters thick. Recent research on these layers suggests that ancient climate change on Mars, caused by regular variation in the planet's tilt, may have caused the patterns in layers. On Earth, similar changes (astronomical forcing) of climate results in ice-age cycles and formation of rhythmites.

The regular appearance of rock layers suggests that regular changes in climate may be the root cause. Regular changes in climate may be due to variations of a planet's tilt (called obliquity). The tilt of the Earth's axis changes by only a little more than 2 degrees since our moon is relatively large. In contrast Mars's tilt varies by tens of degrees. When the tilt is low (current situation on Mars), the poles are the coldest places on the planet, while the equator is the warmest (as on Earth). This could cause gases in the atmosphere, like water and carbon dioxide, to migrate poleward, where they would freeze. When the obliquity is higher, the poles receive more sunlight, causing those materials to migrate away. When carbon dioxide moves from the Martian poles, the atmospheric pressure increases, possibly causing a difference in the ability of winds to transport and deposit sand. Also, with more water in the atmosphere sand grains may stick and cement together to form layers.[2]


Location on MarsEdit

The Martian crater Schiaparelli is in the center of this 1980 mosaic from the Viking orbiter.
The surroundings of the Schiaparelli crater.

In popular cultureEdit

In the 2011 novel The Martian by Andy Weir, and the 2015 feature film adapted from it, Schiaparelli is the landing site for Ares 4, the fourth crewed mission to Mars. The protagonist, Mark Watney, an astronaut from Ares 3 who is stranded on Mars, must travel from Acidalia Planitia to Schiaparelli, a journey of 3,200 kilometres (2,000 mi).[3]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature – Schiaparelli". Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature – International Astronomical Union. Retrieved 10 August 2017.
  2. ^ Archived from the original on 2012-09-12. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ Weir, Andy (2014). The Martian. New York: Crown Publishers. ISBN 978-0-8041-3902-1.

External linksEdit

  • Layers, Bedrock Ridges, and Dark Sand in Schiaparelli Crater, LPL HiRISE, includes large color photos