A Dramatic New Crater on Mars

A spectacular view of a fresh impact

NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter  (MRO) has captured a spectacular new image of a fresh impact crater on Mars. The image comes from the spacecraft’s High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera.

A dramatic, fresh impact crater dominates this image taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on Nov. 19, 2013. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

The crater is estimated to be about 30 meters (100 feet) in diamter, and formed sometime between July 2010 and May 2012. It was first spotted in low resolution images from the orbiter’s Context Camera after the May 2012 pass of the site. The new, hi-res view was acquired on November 19, 2013. The impact that generated the crater also sprayed dust and rock up to 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) across the surface, creating the spectacular patterning that can be seen in the image.

This artist’s impression shows the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter above the martian north pole. Credit: NASA/JPL

You can view the full resolution image on the NASA website at http://uahirise.org/ESP_034285_1835 and http://www.nasa.gov/jpl/mro/martian-impact-crater-pia17932.

NASA’s MRO spacecraft has been orbiting Mars since 2006 and has returned invaluable data about the planet. Images from MRO have been used to select landing sites for surface missions like the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), and have helped scientists identify geological features that show water once flowed on the surface of Mars.

Studying features on the surface of Mars can provide insight into the past environmental conditions on the planet. This is essential in determining whether or not the planet could have once supported habitats for life as we know it at the surface.

The image above is an enhanced color version. Fresh material exposed by the crater-forming impact appears blue.

The crater is located at 3.7 °N, 53.4 °E on Mars. The image can be found in the HiRISE observation catalog, labeled ESP_034285_1835. Additional products from this set of observations can be found at: http://uahirise.org/ESP_034285_1835 .