Something so Powerful Impacted Mars it Smashed Through the Planet’s Ice Cap

And NASA has fresh images.

Thanks to new images from Mars, astronomers were able to pinpoint a new impact crater on the red planet’s surface.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona.

The new crater is huge and clearly visible in the images from Mars. It was snapped by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’s High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera.

The collision is thought to have occurred between July and September of 2018. The object that impacted the red plant is believed to have smashed through the red planet’s southern Icecap, leaving behind a unique impact pattern.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona.

According to astronomers, the red planet is exposed to about 200 asteroid impacts every year. The 200-per-year space rock impact rate comes from the study of 248 new Martian craters that experts have identified in the past decade thanks to images from the surface snapped by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

They tend to be relatively small (1 – 2 meters across) and are usually fragments of asteroids and comets.

This ‘two-tone’ blast impact made it easier for astronomers to spot.

“When an impactor hits the ground, there is a tremendous amount of force like an explosion,” explained HiRISE co-investigator, Ross Beyer.

The clearly visible blast pattern is believed to be the result of strong winds that resulted from the impact shockwave.

“The larger, light-colored blast pattern could be the result of scouring winds by the impact shockwave.”

“The darker inner blast pattern is because the impactor penetrated the thin ice layer, excavating the sand underneath and threw it out in a direction,” Beyer explained.

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HiRISE
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