Science and Exploration

A Fresh Impact Crater On Mars

By Keith Cowing
June 19, 2019
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A Fresh Impact Crater On Mars
Fresh Impact Crater

An impressionist painting? No, it’s a new impact crater that has appeared on the surface of Mars, formed at most between September 2016 and February 2019.
What makes this stand out is the darker material exposed beneath the reddish dust. It looks blue because it’s a false color image, which combines several color filters to enhance differences between material compositions. The light blue indicates an absence of brighter, redder dust where the impact blast scoured the surface, revealing bedrock below. The very bright blue could be ejecta with a different composition that was thrown by the impact.

The blue color isn’t ice. This impact was near the equator, not in a region where we’d expect shallow ice below the surface.

The University of Arizona, in Tucson, operates HiRISE, which was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., in Boulder, Colorado. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, California, manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Project for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington.

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