I know right, the image looks like an artist’s impression or a beautiful painting. But what you are actually looking at there is the result of a space rock impacting the surface of the red planet creating a 16-meter wide crater on the surface.
But the crater itself isn’t what impressed scientists who spotted it. In fact, it is the color that was revealed beneath the Martian soil that gave experts a lot to talk about.
Ice, Martian Ice
The Picasso Image of Mars was snapped in April by the HiRISE camera onboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), which has been photographing the red planet up close and personal for more than 13 years.
It is unknown when the crater exactly originated, but scientists estimate that it arose between September 2016 and February of this year.
But what makes it so special are the dark, bluish stains on the reddish dust of the Martian surface, and according to Veronica Bray, HiRISE team member, and scientist at the University of Arizona (USA), the blue color is due to the presence of ice on the planet’s soil.
Speaking to Space.com the scientists explained that the space rock most likely exposed basaltic rock from beneath the surface of Mars, and there’s a chance it may also have dug up ice on Mars.
HiPOD 6 Jun 2019: A Work of Art
An impressionist painting? No, it’s a new impact crater on Mars, formed between Sept 2016 and Feb 2019. What makes this stand out is the darker material exposed beneath the reddish dust. (Special thanks to Nahúm Mendez.)https://t.co/tspasjsG90 pic.twitter.com/T4ml5gfTnH
— HiRISE: Beautiful Mars (NASA) (@HiRISE) June 6, 2019
Experts argue that the crater itself is quite impressive and that the object that impacted the red planet was most likely quite rare.
It is believed the object that crashed into Mars creating this ‘work of art’ was around 1.5 meters wide.
In fact, it was so small that it would have disintegrated had it entered an atmosphere similar to that of Earth. However, given its size, the object should have also burned up while entering Mars’ atmosphere.
But it didn’t.
The object was most likely more solid than the other rocks that enter the atmosphere of Mars, which often disintegrate and create chains of craters when their pieces impact against the Martian surface.