Small and Fresh Asteroid Impact Crater Found in an Unlikely Region of Mars

Our solar system is a very violent place, with countless pieces of rock floating about, apparently aimlessly (but not really), and slamming into one another from time to time. Some places, like Mars, are more inclined to get hit, and thanks to the way it is made, the planet allows us to see almost all the remnants of past impacts in their full glory.
Impact crater on Mars 7 photos
Martian impact crater looking like the mouth of Shai-HuludCassini crater on MarsCassini crater on MarsCassini crater on MarsCassini crater on MarsCassini crater on Mars
The planet has about 400,000 craters that are over one km (0.62 miles in diameter). Probability tells you that because there are so many of them, asteroids must have been indiscriminate and hit all over the place.

And that’s generally what happens, with NASA claiming that the middle and high latitudes get hit just as often as at the equator. The difference is that, unlike the equator, these places rarely hold the remnants of impacts for long, as they quickly get “buried by frost and dust, or re-worked by ground ice expanding and contracting as it warms up and cools off each year.”

So, finding a mid-latitude crater is rare and somewhat of an event for the people running the HiRISE camera, currently orbiting and looking down at Mars. Yet, it does happen from time to time, and here’s a fine example of that.

The main photo of this piece shows a crater 400 meters (440 yards) wide, located somewhere in the mid-latitude region. The HiRISE camera was lucky to snap a photo of it now, as the crater will probably disappear in the mid-term future, already displaying all the signs of being filled in and eroded.

Scientists are unable to say when the crater was formed, but the fact it’s still there is a clear sign it’s relatively recent. It will end up being “a shallow circular pit,” with “perhaps a ring of boulders where the rim and ejecta used to be.”

Editor's note: Gallery shows various craters on Mars.


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