New impact craters on Mars


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New impact crater on Mars

Cool image time! The high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) keeps finding recent impact craters, all of which the science team try to monitor periodically to see how the surface evolves over time. The image on the right, cropped to post here, is one such crater, the image taken in January 2018 and released with as one of the captioned images from this month’s image catalog release. If you click on the image you can see the full picture.

What is notable about this particular impact are the colors.

The new crater and its ejecta have distinctive color patterns. Once the colors have faded in a few decades, this new crater will still be distinctive compared to the secondaries by having a deeper cavity compared to its diameter.

Those colors of course have importance to researchers, as they reveal the different materials found beneath the surface at this location, normally hidden by surface dust and debris.

Nor is this the only impact crater revealed in this month’s image release. Earlier in the month the science team highlighted an image that captured two small impacts. While all three of these impacts are in the general region called Elysium Planitia, they are not particularly close to each other. They are however surrounding the landing site for the InSight lander now heading to Mars. This last link takes you to my January 28, 2018 post detailing some information about this landing site, and also includes another recent crater impact, found at the center of the landing zone.

It is not clear if these recent impacts are related to each other. As noted by Alfred McEwen of the science team, “Often, a bolide breaks apart in the atmosphere and makes a tight cluster of new craters.” It could be that all these recent impacts came from the same bolide, which is why there appear to be a surplus of them in Elysium Planitia.

Then again, our surface survey of Mars is very incomplete. These impacts could simply be marking the normal impact rate for Mars. We will not know until we have completed a detail survey of all recent impacts on Mars, and have been able to date them all.

Who wants to do it?

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2 comments

  • Alex Andrite

    Very, very cool. A Pock of a Different Color ! Beautiful, as so many others which have been received.
    Although, I was not able to find what the definition of a “recent” / “new” impact is.
    Please help.

  • wodun

    Who wants to do it?

    I was reminded as reading this how much data there is out there and how few people there are to sift through it. There certainly isn’t a budget for government doing it. It is a blessing, though, that we are able to gather so much information.

    A space show guest a while back wanted to create crypto or virtual currencies to reward people. Another appeal is prestige. But everything really depends on people deciding the work is interesting and there is probably only a certain percentage of the population that will ever be interested. So, we need more people in total. Perhaps though, there will be more people as a percentage that become interested as time goes on.

    Even though our robotic partners save the data, does it really exist until a human brings it into the collective consciousness?

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