A high-resolution HiRISE camera aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has captured the relatively recent location of an asteroid or large meteorite hitting the surface of Mars, reports the University of Arizona's HiRISE Operations Center.
The impact, which is entirely new from a cosmic perspective, probably took place between February 2006 and March 2014, the University of Arizona imaging team said. The area in the image covers about 5km. Around the crater formed by this impact, ray structures made up of ejected material are clearly visible.
Almost the entire surface of Mars is covered with craters. NASA estimates that the planet has more than a quarter of a million impact craters the size of Barringer Crater in Arizona, which is 1,219 m in diameter and 229 m deep. And there are more than 43,000 Martian craters over 5 km across.
Meanwhile, only about 120 impact craters are known on Earth. This is due to the fact that for hundreds of millions of years various parts of the Earth's surface have either been covered by lava at some point or have experienced tectonic shifts or have been subjected to erosion by water and air. Mars is not completely dead geologically - Mars shocks are frequent there - but there is no way that Martian activity can compare with that on Earth. There is essentially nothing on Mars at present capable of concealing new craters. So, too, this fresh Martian impact crater will be visible for many millions of years.