Spotted – Mysterious secondary craters observed on Mars

The image was captured by the agency's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) that has been studying the Red Planet's atmosphere and terrain from orbit since 2006.

By Zee Media Bureau | Last Updated: Apr 19, 2017, 17:16 PM IST
Spotted – Mysterious secondary craters observed on Mars
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

New Delhi: NASA has released a stunning image of Mars showing a particular region, sprayed with mysterious secondary craters.

The image was captured by the agency's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) that has been studying the Red Planet's atmosphere and terrain from orbit since 2006.

"Secondary craters form from rocks ejected at high speed from the primary crater, which then impact the ground at sufficiently high speed to make huge numbers of much smaller craters over a large region," NASA said in a statement on Tuesday.

 

"In this scene, however, the secondary crater ejecta has an unusual raised-relief appearance like bas-relief sculpture," NASA added.

So how did that happen?

One idea is that the region was covered with a layer of fine-grained materials like dust or pyroclastics about one to two metres thick when the Zunil impact occurred (about a million years ago), and the ejecta served to harden or otherwise protect the fine-grained layer from later erosion by the wind, NASA scientists said.

On March 27, 2017, the orbiter which is the most data-productive spacecraft yet at Mars completed its 50,000th orbit of the Red Planet.

(With IANS inputs)