New Mars crater turns the red planet black and blue

A big space rock slammed the red planet, leaving behind a cosmic work of art.

Eric Mack Contributing Editor
Eric Mack has been a CNET contributor since 2011. Eric and his family live 100% energy and water independent on his off-grid compound in the New Mexico desert. Eric uses his passion for writing about energy, renewables, science and climate to bring educational content to life on topics around the solar panel and deregulated energy industries. Eric helps consumers by demystifying solar, battery, renewable energy, energy choice concepts, and also reviews solar installers. Previously, Eric covered space, science, climate change and all things futuristic. His encrypted email for tips is ericcmack@protonmail.com.
Expertise Solar, solar storage, space, science, climate change, deregulated energy, DIY solar panels, DIY off-grid life projects. CNET's "Living off the Grid" series. https://www.cnet.com/feature/home/energy-and-utilities/living-off-the-grid/ Credentials
  • Finalist for the Nesta Tipping Point prize and a degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Eric Mack

A fresh impact crater on the surface of Mars was spotted by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Sometime between September 2016 and February of this year there was a big blast on Mars that appears to have painted the surface of the red planet with other hues as well. 

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) photographed the newly formed crater in April and the image was shared online earlier this month.

Mars is probably hit by chunks of asteroids and other debris on a regular basis, given its thin atmosphere and proximity to the asteroid belt, but this collision was particularly impressive.  

"This is a whopper of an impact, as new craters go -- diameter is 16 m (52 feet)," Peter Grindrod, planetary sciences research leader for the UK Natural History Museum, wrote on Twitter.    

Before and after photos of the region show just how much damage was done by the meteor that smacked our planetary neighbor.

"What makes this stand out is the darker material exposed beneath the reddish dust," writes the team of the MRO's HiRISE (High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment), dubbed the most powerful camera ever sent to another planet. 

The new feature represents an opportunity for scientists, who now get a closer look at a bit of the Martian surface that's been conveniently cleared of dust and its top layers of regolith.   

But it's also a little bit foreboding for any space agencies or billionaires named Elon who might have construction projects in mind for Mars. 

A 23rd-century tourist guide to the galaxy

See all photos
Watch this: Stunning images of Mars from the European Space Agency