Fresh crater in Martian northern lowlands


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Fresh impact crater in northern lowlands
Click for full image.

Today’s cool image could be a sequel to yesterday’s. The image on the right, cropped to post here, was one of the many images released from Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’s (MRO) high resolution camera in March. The release, uncaptioned, calls this a “fresh impact crater.”

In many ways it resembles the craters I posted yesterday, with a splashed look and a crater floor with features that favor the north. Why that divot exists in the northern half of the floor is to me a mystery. The crater floor looks like a sinkhole to me, with material slowly leaking downward at that divot to cause this surface depression. Yet the rim screams impact. And yet, why the double rim? Was this caused by ripples in wet mud when the bolide hit?

Location of fresh impact crater

The crater itself is all by itself deep in those northern plains. You can see its location as the tiny white rectangle slightly to the left of the center in the overview image to the right. The giant Martian volcanoes can be seen at the image’s right edge, almost a quarter of a planet away. This is at a very low elevation on Mars, almost as deep as Hellas Basin.

For some fun context, this location is very close to where Viking 2 landed in 1976. The Mars 2020 rover meanwhile will land at this overview image’s left edge, on the western shore of the oval cut into southern highlands at about the same latitude as Olympus Mons, the largest volcano on the right. And InSight and Curiosity sit almost due south, with Curiosity in the yellow in the transition from green to orange, and InSight to the north in the green.

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2 comments

  • MDN

    Would have been nice if they had provided a bit more descriptive context. What part is specifically “recent”, and what is the definition of recent? It appears to my eye that the divot is the new bit, with the northern edge of it causing the concentric double rim to collapse.

    The double concentric walls of the underlying crater is truly interesting. Perhaps the result of a double impact where a body broke in two and hit sequentially perhaps just a few minutes apart?

  • MDN: There was no additional description because this image, like 99% of all images taken by MRO, was taken as part of research being done by specific individuals. They will provide their descriptions in their published science papers.

    For example, last month I highlighted this fresh-looking landslide, making some educated guesses about it while noting how it seems unchanged from a previous image taken a decade earlier.

    Then, last week at the 50th Planetary and Lunar Conference there was a paper focused specifically on this landslide [pdf], where the scientists concluded it closely resembled a mudslide on Earth, suggesting the presence of water.

    Based on crater dating methods, they estimate the landslide to be 1 and 8 million years old.

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