Encyclopedia of Planetary Landforms

2015 Edition
| Editors: Henrik Hargitai, Ákos Kereszturi

Crater Ray

  • Nadine G. Barlow
  • Henrik Hargitai
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-3134-3_77


Crater rays are filamentous deposits occurring radial or subradial to impact craters. They exhibit an albedo different from their surroundings in visible and/or infrared wavelengths.


(Lunar) bright rays; (Lunar) rays;  Ray system;  Thermal rays


Rays are long, narrow, generally high albedo (bright) approximately linear deposits extending nearly radially for many crater radii from the primary crater. Rays contrast with the surrounding, underlying surface. Rays are albedo features and therefore cannot be seen under low angles of illumination (except for crater chains contained within the rays). Rays are often accompanied by secondary crater clusters. Most crater rays are radial to the crater rim, but others display non-radial orientations (Giamboni 1959). Some crater rays become non-radial because of atmospheric or Coriolis effects during emplacement.


Two different crater ray patterns are found on the Moon (Figs. 14), Mars (Fig. 5), and Mercury...
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Physics and AstronomyNorthern Arizona UniversityFlagstaffUSA
  2. 2.NASA Ames Research Center/NPPMoffett FieldUSA