Scientists have spotted a stunning new impact cater on the surface of Mars.
The crater, which was spotted by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), was created sometime between July and September 2018, according to scientists involved in the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE).
Managed by the University of Arizona, the powerful HiRISE camera is one of six instruments on the MRO.
“The impact hit on the ice layer, and the tones of the blast pattern tell us the sequence,” explained HiRISE co-investigator Ross Beyer, in a statement. “When an impactor hits the ground, there is a tremendous amount of force like an explosion. The larger, lighter-colored blast pattern could be the result of scouring by winds from the impact shockwave.”
The impact is also notable because it occurred in Mars’ seasonal southern ice cap, according to Beyer. After apparently punching through the ice cap, the impact created the two-toned blast pattern, he explained.
Mars looms ever larger in America’s space future.
In November, NASA announced that it has selected the location where its Mars 2020 Rover will land on the Red Planet. The rover is expected to reach the Martian surface on Feb. 18, 2021.
NASA’s long-term goal is to send a manned mission to Mars in the 2030s. However, former astronaut Buzz Aldrin thinks that a slightly later target date of 2040 is more realistic. In an interview in 2016, the Gemini 12 and Apollo 11 astronaut told Fox News that by 2040, astronauts could visit Mars’ moon Phobos, which could serve as a sort of stepping stone to the Red Planet.
Fox News’ Chris Ciaccia contributed to this article. Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers