Bam! Fresh Crater Spied on Mars — and It Looks Spectacular | 6/12/2019 | Elizabeth Howell
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Mars got whacked.

A small space rock crashed into the Red Planet's surface recently, producing a fresh crater that researchers estimate is 49 feet to 53 feet (15 to 16 meters) wide.

Feature - Image - NASA - Mars - Reconnaissance

The dramatic feature is clearly visible in a newly released image from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). The spacecraft has been imaging the Red Planet up close for more than 13 years using its High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera and photographing larger swaths of terrain with its lower-resolution Context Camera (CTX).

A new crater on Mars, which appeared sometime between September 2016 and February 2019, shows up as a dark smudge on the landscape in this high-resolution photo.

Color - Image - HiRISE - June - April

A color image from HiRISE, posted June 6 and taken in April, shows a large black-and-blue bruise on the landscape amid an otherwise flat area of red Martian dirt.

Because MRO cannot look everywhere at once, it's unclear exactly when the new crater formed; the best estimate is somewhere between September 2016 and February 2019, scientists said.

MRO - Hundreds - Dark - Year - HiRISE

While MRO captures hundreds of these new dark smudges a year, said HiRISE team member and University of Arizona staff scientist Veronica Bray, this new crater is on the larger side of the ones that she has ever seen. That means the impact that created it was a fairly rare event, at least as far as we know from 13 years of MRO's continuous observing.

Bray estimated that the impactor responsible was about 5 feet (1.5 m) wide — so small that it would either have burst into pieces or eroded away completely had it come through Earth's much thicker atmosphere. The impactor might have been a more solid rock than usual, she added, because other rocks coming into Mars' atmosphere often shatter high in the air and create chains of craters as broken-up pieces...
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