Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

HiRISE Mars camera reveals hundreds of impacts each year

16.05.2013
Taking before and after pictures of Martian terrain, researchers of the UA-led HiRISE imaging experiment have identified almost 250 fresh impact craters on the Red Planet, providing a more accurate yardstick of surface processes on Mars
Scientists using images from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, or MRO, have estimated that the planet is bombarded by more than 200 small asteroids or bits of comets per year forming craters at least 12.8 feet (3.9 meters) across.

Researchers have identified 248 new impact sites on parts of the Martian surface in the past decade, using images from the spacecraft to determine when the craters appeared. The 200-per-year planetwide estimate is a calculation based on the number found in a systematic survey of a portion of the planet.

This image shows one of many fresh impact craters spotted by the UA-led HiRISE camera, orbiting the Red Planet on board NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter since 2006.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/UA

The University of Arizona's High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment, or HiRISE camera, took pictures of the fresh craters at sites where before and after images had been taken. This combination provided a new way to make direct measurements of the impact rate on Mars and will lead to better age estimates of recent features on Mars, some of which may have been the result of climate change.

"It's exciting to find these new craters right after they form," said Ingrid Daubar of the UA, lead author of the paper published online this month by the journal Icarus. "It reminds you Mars is an active planet, and we can study processes that are happening today."

These asteroids or comet fragments typically are no more than 3 to 6 feet (1 to 2 meters) in diameter. Space rocks too small to reach the ground on Earth cause craters on Mars because the Red Planet has a much thinner atmosphere.

HiRISE targeted places where dark spots had appeared during the time between images taken by the spacecraft's Context Camera, or CTX, or cameras on other orbiters. The new estimate of cratering rate is based on a portion of the 248 new craters detected. If comes from a systematic check of a dusty fraction of the planet with CTX since late 2006.

The impacts disturb the dust, creating noticeable blast zones. In this part of the research, 44 fresh impact sites were identified.

The meteor over Chelyabinsk, Russia, in February was about 10 times bigger than the objects that dug the fresh Martian craters.

Estimates of the rate at which new craters appear serve as scientists' best yardstick for estimating the ages of exposed landscape surfaces on Mars and other worlds.

Daubar and co-authors calculated a rate for how frequently new craters at least 12.8 feet (3.9 meters) in diameter are excavated. The rate is equivalent to an average of one each year on each area of the Martian surface roughly the size of the U.S. state of Texas. Earlier estimates pegged the cratering rate at three to 10 times more craters per year. They were based on studies of craters on the moon and the ages of lunar rocks collected during NASA's Apollo missions in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

"Mars now has the best-known current rate of cratering in the solar system," said UA's HiRISE Principal Investigator Alfred McEwen, a co-author on the paper.

MRO has been examining Mars with six instruments since 2006. Daubar is an imaging targeting specialist who has been on the HiRISE uplink operation s team from the very beginning. She is also a graduate student in the UA's department of planetary science and plans on graduating with her doctorate in spring 2014.

"There are five of us who help plan the images that HiRISE will take over a two-week cycle," she explained. "We work with science team members across the world to understand their science goals, help select the image targets and compile the commands for the spacecraft and the camera."

"The longevity of this mission is providing wonderful opportunities for investigating changes on Mars," said MRO Deputy Project Scientist Leslie Tamppari of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

The UA Lunar and Planetary Laboratory operates the HiRISE camera, which was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. of Boulder, Colo. Malin Space Science Systems of San Diego built and operates the Context Camera. JPL manages the MRO for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems of Denver, built the orbiter.

Daniel Stolte | University of Arizona
Further information:
http://www.arizona.edu

Further reports about: HiRISE HiRISE camera Laboratory MRO Mars Martian surface

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Smooth propagation of spin waves using gold
26.06.2017 | Toyohashi University of Technology

nachricht A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL
23.06.2017 | Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Study shines light on brain cells that coordinate movement

26.06.2017 | Life Sciences

Smooth propagation of spin waves using gold

26.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Switchable DNA mini-machines store information

26.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>