A small space rock crashed into the Red Planet’s surface recently, producing a crater that researchers estimate is 49 feet to 53 feet (15 to 16 meters) wide.
The crater is visible in a newly released image from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), a craft that has been imaging the Red Planet up close for more than 13 years. Because MRO can’t look everywhere at once, it’s not clear when the crater formed, the best estimate is somewhere between September 2016 and February 2019.
HiRISE team member and University of Arizona staff scientist Veronica Bay said the colour of this particular crater fascinates her, because she can see the impact wave clearly – a dark zone where dust was shifted off the surface. Beneath is likely basaltic rock, based on what we know of Mars geology and the colours showing in the image. There are also zones that may or may not be exposed ice.