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New Crater Discovered On The Surface Of Mars, And Everyone Is Making The Same Joke

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Dr. Alfredo Carpineti

author

Dr. Alfredo Carpineti

Senior Staff Writer & Space Correspondent

Alfredo (he/him) has a PhD in Astrophysics on galaxy evolution and a Master's in Quantum Fields and Fundamental Forces.

Senior Staff Writer & Space Correspondent

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Image: © NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has discovered a brand-new crater on the surface of Mars. The team suspect a solid rock probably around 1.5 meters (5 feet) wide hit the Red Planet in a region called Sinai Planum, just south of the most impressive canyon in the solar system: the Valles Marineris. The crater formed sometime between September 2016 and February 2019.

The image was captured by the High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) onboard the MRO. The enhanced color image shows dark streaks and a blue feature on the pale red terrain of Mars. Before you say it looks like an anus like some have online, we would recommend a visit to the doctor to clarify what exactly those blue and black streaks are.

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The jokes have been predictable, and non-stop.

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For now, planetary scientists are struggling with the origin of the darker regions in the image. CRISM, the other instrument onboard MRO that could have worked out the composition, is past its design lifetime. It had a poorer resolution than HiRISE and must have further deteriorated when it ran out of coolant.

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Space.com interviewed HiRISE team member and University of Arizona staff scientist Dr Veronica Bray regarding the new crater. She suggests that the black material is likely basalt, given our knowledge of the region and Mars’ geology. The blue parts might be water ice.

“While the crater was blasted in the Valles Marineris region, near the relatively warm Martian equator, it's possible there could be a little ice underneath the dust,” Bray told Space.com.

Researchers previously suggested that the streaks of material we see stretching away from the center of craters on Mars are caused by powerful tornado-strength winds scoring the surface as they move. The winds can reach speeds of up to 800 kilometers (500 miles) per hour and, in experiments in the lab, seem to be affected by the composition of the terrain.

The winds that scour the surface are made of water vapor trapped either in the impactor or in the soil beneath it. It's possible the streaks might give us a way to study the composition of cratered regions indirectly.

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[H/T: Space.com]


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