Thursday, February 05, 2009

A meteorite hits mars

A news story from Universe Today presents new images of Mars from the HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (a NASA spacecraft in orbit around Mars) that show a series of new impact craters on Mars, so new that they weren't there in 2003. The series of craters means that a meteor broke apart in Mars's atmosphere, and several pieces survived to crash into Mars's surface.

From the Earth, people see these fragmenting meteors (called "bolides") all the time, but only rarely do the pieces survive the fall through Earth's thick atmosphere. Since Mars has a much thinner atmosphere and much less weather to hide the signatures of an impact, the chances of finding these craters are much higher than on Earth. But it is still an amazing find. Neat!

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