This Is the Strangest-Shaped Impact Crater You’ll Find All Day

Try as we might, we’ll probably never be capable of making a complete count of the craters on Mars. Estimates are there are some 43,000 of them larger than 3 miles (5 km) in diameter and a virtually endless supply of smaller ones.
Strangely shaped crater in the Noachis Terra region of Mars 6 photos
Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UArizona
Noachis Terra region of MarsNoachis Terra region of MarsNoachis Terra region of MarsNoachis Terra region of MarsNoachis Terra region of Mars
Earth is probably just as riddled with hit marks, but our planet has something going for it that Mars doesn’t: the means to cover its scars. Vegetation, rivers, lakes and seas, and even human activity have helped the planet put makeup over craters, so we only know of about 120 of them.

Mars, on the other hand, lacking such capabilities, has all its craters exposed for all to see. With potent eyes in the sky, especially those called HiRISE, we are able to look at individual craters if we want to, trying to unlock their mysteries.

Common sense would tell you that an impact crater is more or less circular, no matter what created it, or the angle of the hit. We do get from time to time elongated craters, but one general rule is valid for all of them: their edges always form uninterrupted curved lines.

Not the thing we’re looking at now, though. The shape of this one is not a circle and not an oval, but seems to have a straight line up north, a curved side that runs from the west to the south, and a fractured side to the east.

The scientists who look at HiRISE images for a living call this shape odd, and say it’s located in the Noachis Terra region of Mars. They are pretty certain this is an impact crater, though.

A closer look at the crater does seem to reveal why the thing is shaped this way: Inside, close to the north side, bulges rise up from the floor, pointing at that side of the crater having collapsed, effectively extending the crater beyond its natural borders and giving it this strange shape.
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Editor's note: Gallery shows Noachis Terra region of Mars.

About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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