NASA discovers fresh 'blast pattern' on Mars

Blamo! NASA catches sight of a smashing new impact crater on the Red Planet.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
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This crater and its blast pattern are a relatively recent addition to the Mars landscape.

NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Sometime between July and September of 2018, a rock smacked into Mars and left an impressive mark near the planet's south pole. 

NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) snapped a view of the resulting impact crater and the explosive signature it left on the icy landscape.

"It's notable because it occurred in the seasonal southern ice cap, and has apparently punched through it, creating a two-toned blast pattern," NASA planetary scientist Ross Beyer said of the image released on Tuesday.

Impact craters result when a meteoroid or other space-faring rock collides with Mars. 

Beyer says the larger, lighter-colored blast area could be caused by winds scouring the surface from the impact shockwave, while the inner pattern is where the impact kicked up the dark sand from beneath the ice layer.

The MRO has been in orbit around Mars since 2006. It's on a mission to image the planet and search for evidence that water may have once persisted on the surface. 

The fresh impact crater is one in a long line of fascinating Mars observations from the MRO covering everything from a Pac-Man-like crater to fascinating "spider" formations.

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