A Spectacular New Crater Shows The Hostile Face Of Mars

This photo from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows a fresh crater about 30 metres in diameter at the centre. The impact happened somewhen between July 2010 and May 2012. View the map-projected version of the image here:

The enhanced colours reveals a large, rayed blast zone and far-flung ejecta, indicating a massive explosion threw debris as far as 15km in distance:

Based on apparent changes between earlier low-res images, researchers used HiRISE to acquire this new image on November 19, 2013.

Meteorites keep hitting Mars more than 200 times per year, but few new craters pack as much visual punch as one seen in a NASA image released today.

As NASA explains:

Because the terrain where the crater formed is dusty, the fresh crater appears blue in the enhanced colour of the image, due to removal of the reddish dust in that area. Debris tossed outward during the formation of the crater is called ejecta. In examining ejecta’s distribution, scientists can learn more about the impact event. The explosion that excavated this crater threw ejecta as far as 9.3 miles (15 kilometers).

The crater is at 3.7 degrees north latitude, 53.4 degrees east longitude on Mars. Before-and-after imaging that brackets appearance dates of fresh craters on Mars has indicated that impacts producing craters at least 12.8 feet (3.9 meters) in diameter occur at a rate exceeding 200 per year globally. Few of the scars are as dramatic in appearance as this one.

Pictures: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona