Astronomy Picture of the Day
May 24, 2014

Very Recent Impacts on Mars
Very Recent Impacts on Mars

Credits: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona - Credits for the additional process. and color.: Dr Paolo C. Fienga/LXTT/IPF

The largest Impact Crater that is visible here, approx. at center frame, and associated with a March 2012 Impact Event that occurred on Mars, has, as you can see, many other smaller (and, perhaps, Primary too?) Craters around it, as it is well revealed in this sub-frame taken from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (or "HiRISE", for short) Camera located onboard the NASA - Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

The Impact Crater visible near the center of this May 9, 2014, image is about 159 feet (such as approx. 48,46 meters) wide and it resulted from an impact that must have occurred in the interval of time existing between the daily Mars-afternoon observations of March 27 and March 28, 2012, as determined from a so-called "before-and-after observation" of a large Impact Scar ( and another "before-and-after observation" of the largest and second-largest Impact Craters visible here (

However, this is, so far, the biggest and most recent Impact Crater that, anywhere in the Solar System (meaning not just on Mars), has ever been clearly confirmed by the aforementioned method known as "before-and-after imaging".

The many smaller Craters surrounding the two largest ones suggest that an incoming (small) Asteroid exploded (---> disintegrated) while passing through the Martian Atmosphere, with multiple Fragments excavating individual Primary Craters when they struck the Ground. Alternatively, they could also be Secondary Craters resulting from Material that was ejected from the excavation (---> formation) of the two larger Impact Craters. The location shown here is at approx. 3,34° North Latitude and 219,38° East Longitude. This picture is an excerpt from a HiRISE observation catalogued as ESP_036481_1835.

Mars Local Time: 15:26 (Early Afternoon)
Coord. (centered): 3,317° North Lat. and 219,384° East Long.
Spacecraft altitude: 278,6 Km (such as about 173,01 miles)
Original image scale range: 27,9 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binningso objects ~ 84 cm across are resolved
Map projected scale: 25 cm/pixel
Emission Angle: 13,8°
Phase Angle: 65,1°
Solar Incidence Angle: 53° (meaning that the Sun was about 37° above the Local Horizon at the time the picture was taken)
Solar Longitude: 127,9° (Northern Summer - Southern Winter)
Credits: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
Additional process. and coloring: Lunar Explorer Italia

This picture (which is a NASA - Original Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter False Colors and NON Map-Projected sub-frame identified by the serial n. ESP_036481_1835-1) has been additionally processed, magnified to aid the visibility of the details, contrast enhanced, Gamma corrected, and then re-colorized in Absolute Natural Colors (such as the colors that a human eye would actually perceive if someone were onboard the NASA - Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and then looked down, towards the Surface of Mars), by using an original technique created - and, in time, dramatically improved - by the Lunar Explorer Italia Team.

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