NASA’s Mars orbiter snaps stunning photo of 50-foot new impact crater

NASA’s Mars orbiter snaps stunning photo of 50-foot crater that formed on the red planet after recent collision

  • New image was captured by the HiRISe instrument on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter back in April
  • According to NASA, the impact crater formed sometime between September 2016 and February 2019
  • It’s estimated to be about 50 feet wide, and was formed by an object with a diameter of roughly 5 feet 

A 50-foot-wide impact crater has appeared on the surface of Mars.

In a jaw-dropping photo captured by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) instrument on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, the new crater appears an explosive feature on the dusty surface.

The impact occurred sometime within the last three or so years, the space agency says. NASA and the University of Arizona, which operates HiRISE, shared the image online earlier this month.  

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A 50-foot-wide impact crater has appeared on the surface of Mars. In a jaw-dropping photo captured by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) instrument on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, the new crater appears an explosive feature on the dusty surface

It was captured back in April, though when exactly the impact took place is a mystery.

‘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,’ NASA tweeted alongside the photo.

‘What makes this stand out is the darker material exposed beneath the reddish dust.’

The object responsible for creating the crater, estimated to be 49 to 53 feet wide, was likely small, with a diameter of about 5 feet, according to Space.com.

Differences in the color of material reveal what’s thought to be basaltic rock kicked up from the impact, along with what could be ice, HiRISE targeting specialist Veronica Bray told Space.com.

Just last week, the space agency released a stunning image of a dune that appeared to take on a familiar shape: the ‘Starfleet logo’ from the Star Trek franchise.

Fans of the long-running science fiction title were quick to point out that the object mirrors the plot of an episode of the latest incarnation of the show.

It bears an eerie similarity to the insignia trekked across a desert by Captain Philippa Georgiou and Commander Michael Burnham in the pilot of Star Trek: Discovery.

The pair walk across the surface of an alien world on which they are stranded to signal their location to the USS Shenzhou in orbit.

Ross Beyer, senior research scientist at the SETI Institute, shared the image on Twitter alongside the quip: ‘Enterprising viewers will make the discovery that these features look conspicuously like a famous logo.

In a case of life imitating art, scientists have spotted a Starfleet logo in a sand dune on Mars (pictured) NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter took a picture of a geological formation bearing the iconic symbol and beamed it back to the space agency

‘Long ago, there were large crescent-shaped (barchan) dunes that moved across this area, and at some point, there was an eruption.

‘The lava flowed out over the plain and around the dunes, but not over them. The lava solidified, but these dunes still stuck up like islands.

‘However, as the wind continued to blow, the sand piles that were the dunes migrated away, leaving these “footprints’, in the lava plain.’

NASA has several missions investigating the mysteries of Mars, and plans to send a new rover to the surface in 2020.

WAS MARS EVER HOME TO LIQUID WATER?

Evidence of water on Mars dates back to the Mariner 9 mission, which arrived in 1971. It revealed clues of water erosion in river beds and canyons as well as weather fronts and fogs.

Viking orbiters that followed caused a revolution in our ideas about water on Mars by showing how floods broke through dams and carved deep valleys.

Mars is currently in the middle of an ice age, and before this study, scientists believed liquid water could not exist on its surface.

In June 2013, Curiosity found powerful evidence that water good enough to drink once flowed on Mars.

In September of the same year, the first scoop of soil analysed by Curiosity revealed that fine materials on the surface of the planet contain two per cent water by weight.

In 2017, Scientists provided the best estimates for water on Mars, claiming it once had more liquid H2O than the Arctic Ocean – and the planet kept these oceans for more than 1.5 billion years.

The findings suggest there was ample time and water for life on Mars to thrive, but over the last 3.7 billion years the red planet has lost 87 per cent of its water – leaving it barren and dry. 

 

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