Sometime between July and September of 2018, a rock smacked into Mars and left an impressive mark near the planet’s south pole.
NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) snapped a view of the resulting impact crater and the explosive signature it left on the icy landscape.
‘It’s notable because it occurred in the seasonal southern ice cap, and has apparently punched through it, creating a two-toned blast pattern,’ NASA planetary scientist Ross Beyer said of the image released on Tuesday.
Impact craters result when a meteoroid or other space-faring rock collides with Mars.
Beyer says the larger, lighter-colored blast area could be caused by winds scouring the surface from the impact shockwave, while the inner pattern is where the impact kicked up the dark sand from beneath the ice layer.
The MRO has been in orbit around Mars since 2006. It’s on a mission to image the planet and search for evidence that water may have once persisted on the surface.