The planet Mars does not die easily, but the result is practically a work of art. A new impact crater, spotted in April by the Mars reconnaissance orbiter (MRO), looks like nothing that astronomers have seen before.
Remarkable for both its size and its impact waves, the black and blue mark stands out like a sore thumb on the red and dusty surface of the planet.
The improved color drama scene shown below was captured using NASA's HiRISE (High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment) camera, orbiting 255 kilometers.
Each year, Mars is bombarded by more than 200 asteroids and comets. While some of them leave similar dark traces or other noteworthy features, the planetologist Veronica Bray of the University of Arizona told Space.com that this new crater was the only one of its kind. One of the most impressive she's ever seen. .
During the thirteen years of observation of Mars by the MRO, few events were compared. While the truly responsible space rock fragment appears to be about 1.5 meters (5 feet) wide, the crater itself is much larger, about 15 to 16 meters wide (49 feet wide). at 53 feet).
Such a small culprit would probably have burned or eroded the much thicker atmosphere of the Earth. Even on Mars, these incoming rocks can often break at the entrance, creating chains of craters – like a machine gun hitting the surface of the planet.
In this case, however, the rock had to be stronger than usual because everything managed to sneak into a place in the Valles Marineris area, located near the Martian equator.
"What sets it apart is the darker material exposed under the reddish dust," says the announcement on the HiRISE website.
Indeed, the impact wave is clear to see. This is the dark area in the center of the image, where the dust has been removed to reveal the rocky surface below.
The exact nature of the geography in this area is still uncertain, but Bray says the surface below is probably basalt. And the blue in the picture, she adds, is probably some ice that was also hiding under the dust.
KABOOM! Before and after images of a meteorite forming a brand new crater impact on Mars. Between February 18, 2017 and March 20, 2019. pic.twitter.com/TWXtUoP5NA
– Peter Grindrod (@Peter_Grindrod) June 12, 2019
Although the exact timing of the strike is unknown, astronomers believe that it was probably performed between September 2016 and February 2019.