Fresh Craters

New Mars Crater
Wisps of debris surround one of Mars's newest impact craters.
Among the hot news from Mars today is that researchers have found yet more evidence for water. That's nice, but I was more fascinated by the 20 fresh impact craters discovered in the imagery from the now silent Mars Global Surveyor. The research team admits that they never expected to see new craters — such features, they thought, would be too small. Wrong! Some of the pictures are amazing — like the one at right.

The announcement made me wonder whether there are more to be found in MGS's years of photos. Much like how amateur astronomers have delved into the archive of observations from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) to find comets, maybe some dedicated sleuth will find some craters.

December 7th update: I wrote to one of the team members, Ken Edgett of Malin Space Science Systems, and he notes that there may well be more craters to be found. He said that they only looked at 30% of Mars's surface, concentrating on the dusty regions where the dark splotches would be more pronounced. Scars in other areas may be more harder to spot.

All comments must follow the Sky & Telescope Terms of Use and will be moderated prior to posting. Please be civil in your comments. Sky & Telescope reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter’s username, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.