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Mars weather camera spots big new crater

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

Scott Sutherland
Meteorologist/Science Writer

Thursday, May 22, 2014, 4:33 PM -

Seeing yet another crater on the face of Mars' beaten and pock-marked surface isn't typically very noteworthy, but one in particular is standing out from the others now, as it has become the largest fresh impact crater to be confirmed by before-and-after images, anywhere in our solar system.

Satellites orbiting Mars have been recording plenty of new craters on its face over the years, which is understandable, given its proximity to the asteroid belt and the fact that there's no forests or oceans on its surface to mask these events (which is partly why we don't see a lot of these on Earth). However, the above crater is one for the record books so far, since scientists can narrow down the impact that created it to just one 24 hour period - between March 27 and March 28, 2012! As the video below discusses, this crater was found by scientist Bruce Cantor, who works with Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego, running the MARCI weather camera on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). 

"It wasn't what I was looking for," Cantor said in a NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory news release today. "I was doing my usual weather monitoring and something caught my eye. It looked usual, with rays emanating from a central spot."

Leslie Tamppari, the Deputy Project Scientist for the MRO mission, talks about the discovery in the video below, which includes several of the before-and-after images of the crater taken by various orbiting cameras:

To learn more about the MRO satellite and its mission, you can visit NASA's website, which includes images, new stories and even the latest in Martian weather reports.

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