Big space rock makes an impact on Mars

Orbiting spacecraft snaps image of huge crater and blast marks

MAJOR IMPACT  Light and dark streaks appear to burst from a fairly fresh impact crater on Mars in an image taken by the HiRISE instrument aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Univ. of Arizona, JPL-Caltech/NASA

Sometime between July 2010 and May 2012, a really big space rock slammed into Mars. An image of the resulting crater, released February 5 by NASA, shows a scar about 30 meters across.

Impacts aren’t uncommon on the Red Planet, which gets hit by more than 200 asteroids or comets each year. But few crashes leave such visible scars as the one shown above.

The photograph was taken November 19, 2013, by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Based on the blue and black blast zone that appears to explode from the crater, astronomers estimate that the impact threw material as far as 15 kilometers.

Ashley Yeager is the associate news editor at Science News. She has worked at The Scientist, the Simons Foundation, Duke University and the W.M. Keck Observatory, and was the web producer for Science News from 2013 to 2015. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and a master’s degree in science writing from MIT.

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