A Recent Impact Site in Noachis Terra

This image acquired on December 9, 2018 by NASAs Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, shows a recent impact in Noachis Terra in the southern mid-latitudes of Mars.
February 20, 2019
CreditNASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona
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This image shows a recent impact in Noachis Terra in the southern mid-latitudes of Mars. The impact occurred in dark-toned ejecta material from a degraded, 60-kilometer crater to the south.

Rather than a single impact crater, we see multiple impacts like a shotgun blast. This suggests that the impactor broke up in the atmosphere on entry. Although the atmosphere of Mars is thinner than Earth's, it still has the capacity to break up small impactors, especially ones comprised of weaker materials, like a stony meteoroid versus a iron-nickel one.

Our image depicts 21 distinctive craters ranging in size from 1 to 7 meters in diameter. They are distributed over an area that spans about 305 meters. Most observed recent impacts expose darker-toned materials underlying bright dusty surfaces. However, this impact does the opposite, showing us lighter-toned materials that lie beneath a darker colored surface.

The impact was initially discovered in a 2016 Context Camera image, and was not seen in a 2009 picture. This implies that the impact may be only two years old, but certainly no more than nine years.

The map is projected here at a scale of 25 centimeters (9.8 inches) per pixel. [The original image scale is 25.5 centimeters (10.0 inches) per pixel (with 1 x 1 binning); objects on the order of 77 centimeters (30.3 inches) across are resolved.] North is up.

This is a stereo pair with ESP_049175_1490.

The University of Arizona, Tucson, operates HiRISE, which was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colorado. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, California, manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington.