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A crater with wings!

A crater with wings!
Click for full image.

Cool image time! The photo to the right, cropped and reduced to post here, was taken on April 5, 2021 by the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), and shows a particularly unusual crater in the southern mid-latitudes on the eastern edge of Hellas Basin.

This region east of Hellas is where scientists have spotted many features that suggest buried glaciers. The terraced material inside this crater, as well as the splattered material surrounding it on three sides, are examples of such glacial material. You can also see similar glacial features, though less pronounced, inside the crater to the north.

The global map of Mars below marks the general location of this crater by a blue cross.

Click for high resolution clean version.

The areas bordered by white are regions where many many glacier features are found. The two white hatched lines at 30 degrees latitude, north and south, indicate the equatorial region where few such ice features are found, suggesting a surface that is arid and dry.

The main question invoked by this image however is the wing-shaped splat emanating out from the crater on its east, south, and west sides. Why not on the north?

My guess is that the crater impact just to the north occurred after this crater, and when it hit its own splat obliterated the northern splat of the southern crater. That is just a guess of course.

Regardless, the geological events that created this crater also created something reminiscent of the intelligent bird god Garuda from Buddhist and Hindu tradition. And since we now know that flight is possible on Mars, who knows what strange things might someday be found there.

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


  • Skunk Bucket

    Did NASA drop a crate of Red Bull in there? (Gives you wings!)

  • Jeff Wright

    The ‘top’ of the crater rim right above the circular plain might be cut into a waterfall one day.

  • Lee Stevenson

    I like the way that the bits of the wings that are blurry and out of focus actually are not.. this image really messes with my visual cortex!! Cool image!

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