Click for original image.
Cool image time! The picture to the right, cropped and sharpened to post here, was taken on February 3, 2023 by the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). It shows a number of crater splats of varying sizes. If you look at the full image, you will find several even bigger splats to the north of the one in the picture to the right. You will also see many more similar-sized crater splats to the south.
I cannot provide any confident explanation about what caused these splats, other than to assume that most here are secondary impacts from ejecta thrown out by a larger impact somewhere nearby. I also assume all these small impacts occurred at the same time because they all appear to have hit the ground when it had the same thick liquid consistency, a condition that was probably temporary. Note for example how many of the other craters in the full image do not have this same splattered look.
The location, at 6.6 degrees south latitude and indicated by the yellow dot north of the Spirit landing site on the overview map to the right, makes it difficult to explain the cause of the splats. This latitude, in the dry equatorial regions, means these are not glacial features, nor will we find any near surface ice here. The location instead appears to be on the edge of the Medusae Fossae Formation, the largest volcanic ash deposit on Mars. If that ash was once damp, like mud, then it might have splattered as we see here, but if so, it was quite a long time ago.
It is also possible that this location is outside Medusae Fossae, and if so than we are likely looking at a plain of flood lava, something that is ubiquitous in this volcanic region of Mars. If the main and secondary impacts happened to occur when that lava was still liquid, the result might have been these splats.
I am guessing however, as I don’t have enough information to make a truly informed hypothesis.
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