Unlocking an Impact Crater
NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
Unlocking an Impact Crater's Clues
ESP_048456_1640  Science Theme: Impact Processes


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Mars is a dynamic planet. HiRISE has witnessed many surface changes over the past ten years, including hundreds of new craters formed by ongoing impacts. Most of these impacts are likely caused by asteroids that have strayed into collision courses with Mars. The planet’s much thinner atmosphere compared to Earth makes small asteroids less likely to burn up prior to hitting the Martian surface.

This new crater, which formed explosively at the point of impact, has a diameter of roughly 8 meters (about 25 feet), but its surrounding blast zone and ejecta extend over a kilometer (about one mile) beyond the crater itself. The materials exposed nearest the crater have distinctive yellowish and lighter grey appearances, while more distant ejected materials range from dark brown to bright bluish in an enhanced-color view. These varied materials may have originated from different layers penetrated by the impact.

This new impact was discovered using the lower-resolution Context Camera (CTX), also on board Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. An older CTX image of this region from May 2012 shows a uniformly dust-covered surface, while a newer CTX image from September 2016 reveals the crater’s dark blast zone. New craters on Mars are easiest to locate in such dust-coated terrains, where they provide opportunistic “road cuts” that allow scientists to see beneath the dust blanket and determine the underlying rock compositions and textures.

This particular crater formed about 300 kilometers (roughly 200 miles) east of the Spirit rover’s final resting spot in Gusev Crater.

Written by: James Wray (audio: Tre Gibbs)  (9 February 2017)
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Acquisition date
27 November 2016

Local Mars time:
14:38

Latitude (centered)
-15.628°

Longitude (East)
181.068°

Range to target site
262.1 km (163.8 miles)

Original image scale range
26.2 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) so objects ~79 cm across are resolved

Map projected scale
25 cm/pixel and North is up

Map projection
Equirectangular

Emission angle:
7.4°

Phase angle:
45.3°

Solar incidence angle
38°, with the Sun about 52° above the horizon

Solar longitude
269.3°, Northern Autumn

For non-map projected images
North azimuth:  97°
Sub-solar azimuth:  344.5°
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IRB color
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map-projected  (193MB)
non-map           (274MB)

IRB color
map projected  (65MB)
non-map           (236MB)

Merged IRB
map projected  (125MB)

Merged RGB
map-projected  (119MB)

RGB color
non map           (246MB)
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HiView

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IRB: infrared-red-blue
RGB: red-green-blue
About color products (PDF)

Black & white is 5 km across; enhanced color about 1 km
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All of the images produced by HiRISE and accessible on this site are within the public domain: there are no restrictions on their usage by anyone in the public, including news or science organizations. We do ask for a credit line where possible:
NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

POSTSCRIPT
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif., manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The HiRISE camera was built by Ball Aerospace and Technology Corporation and is operated by the University of Arizona.