New Impact Cluster
New Impact Cluster
ESP_022057_2070  Science Theme: Impact Processes
In August 2010, the Context camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter discovered a patch of dark spots in an image in western Amazonia Planitia that were not present in a Mars Odyssey THEMIS image of the same area in April 2008.

Often, the appearance of such new spots is due to the formation of a new impact crater or cluster of craters. HiRISE was called in to have a closer look to confirm the discovery.

This image reveals at least four distinct craters, each surrounded by a rayed ejecta zone where excavated material has been emplaced and/or the bright surface dust cover blown away. Due to the heat and pressure of entering Mars’ atmosphere, a single impactor (e.g., a small asteroid or comet) may burst into many individual pieces, likely causing the multiple-impact pattern we see here.

With the combination of CTX and HiRISE monitoring, a crucial aspect of Mars science is being detailed for the first time: the current surface cratering rate. Knowing the rate at which impactors hit Mars is essential in testing models and concepts of how craters accumulate on the surface over time, and hence in better determining the ages of Mars‘ surface. In addition, determining the current number, rate, and types of impacts on Mars can be used to better constrain the impactor population and surface ages on the Moon and other planets.

Written by: Patrick Russell  (4 May 2011)
Acquisition date
11 April 2011

Local Mars time

Latitude (centered)

Longitude (East)

Spacecraft altitude
288.9 km (179.6 miles)

Original image scale range
28.9 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) so objects ~87 cm across are resolved

Map projected scale
25 cm/pixel and North is up

Map projection

Emission angle

Phase angle

Solar incidence angle
64°, with the Sun about 26° above the horizon

Solar longitude
271.8°, Northern Winter

For non-map projected images
North azimuth:  97°
Sub-solar azimuth:  315.1°
Black and white
map projected  non-map

IRB color
map projected  non-map

Merged IRB
map projected

Merged RGB
map projected

RGB color
non-map projected

Black and white
map-projected   (600MB)

IRB color
map-projected   (220MB)

Black and white
map-projected  (212MB)
non-map           (314MB)

IRB color
map projected  (61MB)
non-map           (233MB)

Merged IRB
map projected  (167MB)

Merged RGB
map-projected  (161MB)

RGB color
non map           (226MB)
B&W label
Color label
Merged IRB label
Merged RGB label
EDR products

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

Black & white is 5 km across; enhanced color about 1 km
For scale, use JPEG/JP2 black & white map-projected images

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’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.