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HiRISE shows breaking up ISN’T hard to do on Mars…

One of the best things about the Mars Reconaissance Orbiter’s fantastic HiRISE camera is that it’s the latest fantastic camera put into orbit around Mars. There were others before it. This means that scientists – and armchair martians – can look for changes on the surface of Mars by comparing images taken by different cameras at different times. This has led to the discovery by HiRISE of lots of fresh impact craters, and features, on Mars, and is helping planetary scientists work out just how much space debris falls on Mars in these modern times.

The latest batch of HiRISE images released to the waiting world includes a picture showing a very dramatic “cluster” of fresh impact craters, which suggests that a single, large body – a chunk of asteroid or big space rock – broke up in the sky and the resulting pieces slammed into Mars in a hail of rocks, blasting a scatter-gun spread of small craters out of the ground.

Here’s a crop of the HiRISE images, showing the crater field in black and white… click on the image to see it full size…

breakup2

See that dd-looking dark line between the two largest impact “splashes”? The HiRISE team think that that’s a bank of line of surface material formed when the shock waves from each of those impacts – or, possibly, mid-air detonations – met in the middle. Very cool! 🙂

Let’s add some colour – false, i.e. “my” colour, the colour I get after messing about with carefully using Photoshop to make the scene look a little more, well, martian… again, click on the image below to enlarge it…

breakup3

THAT’s why I love HiRISE, right there. It takes beautiful pictures of a beautiful planet. 🙂

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