The crater, which was captured on camera by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, could have been formed as early as February 2019

By Matt McNulty
June 19, 2019 03:12 PM

Researchers at NASA claim to have discovered a new crater on the surface of Mars, with an image from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter revealing a recent impact site that is only a few months old.

The image was captured with a HiRISE camera affixed to the Reconnaissance Orbiter in April, and clearly shows a large crater surrounded by hills of darker surface material around it.

The crater, measuring about 16 feet wide, formed as recently as February 2019, according to NASA researchers. Craters are cavities on the surface of a planet that are usually caused by the impact of asteroids, meteorites or comets.

“An impressionist painting? No, it’s a new impact crater that has appeared on the surface of Mars, formed at most between September 2016 and February 2019. What makes this stand out is the darker material exposed beneath the reddish dust,” researchers captioned the image.

New Crater on Mars
| Credit:

That blue coloring around the crater could possibly be “water ice,” according to HiRISE team member Veronica Bray.

“That has not yet been confirmed, but commonly, when a HiRISE image of a new impact shows a blue area, it is sometimes water ice,” Bray told CNN.

However, it could just as easily be nothing, as deputy project scientist for the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Leslie Tamppari said.

“I don’t know that we should read anything into it,” Tamppari said in a statement obtained by CNN. “They stretch these images. It’s all false color, not true color … (because) we don’t have every wavelength covered.”

NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter launched back in 2005 and arrived on the red planet a year later for an originally scheduled two-year mission. Instead, the orbiter has been collecting data and capturing images of Mars’ surface for over 13 years, providing scientists and researchers with breathtaking photos of the planet