Mars Atmosphere Fights Back!
Mars Atmosphere Fights Back!
ESP_081897_1880  Science Theme: 
HiRISE and the Context Camera (CTX, also on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter) are always on the lookout for new impact craters. New impacts can be identified by comparing images of the same region taken at different times (typically years apart) and looking for visual clues of recent impacts.

CTX is more adept at identifying new impacts because of its larger and repeated surface coverage, but HiRISE allows us to study those impacts in higher resolution. In this image, we can see multiple dark spots corresponding to numerous new craters. We can also identify a slightly larger crater, and a number of smaller ones, particularly in a cluster next to it. That clustering gives us the first indication that these craters were formed in a single event.

As the impactor was falling towards Mars, the friction with the atmosphere led to the body fragmenting into smaller pieces shortly before striking the surface creating this notable pattern.

Written by: Mohamed Ramy El-Maarry (narration: Tre Gibbs)  (19 March 2024)
Acquisition date
15 January 2024

Local Mars time

Latitude (centered)

Longitude (East)

Spacecraft altitude
265.0 km (164.7 miles)

Original image scale range
26.9 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) so objects ~81 cm across are resolved

Map projected scale
25 cm/pixel and North is up

Map projection

Emission angle

Phase angle

Solar incidence angle
58°, with the Sun about 32° above the horizon

Solar longitude
181.8°, Northern Autumn

For non-map projected images
North azimuth:  97°
Sub-solar azimuth:  0.0°
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Merged RGB
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IRB color
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Black and white
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non-map           (285MB)

IRB color
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non-map           (103MB)

Merged IRB
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Merged RGB
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RGB color
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10K (TIFF)

B&W label
Color label
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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
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.