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Mars Global Surveyor
Mars Orbiter Camera

Second of Two Fresh Impact Crater Sites With “Before”
and “After” Narrow Angle Mars Orbiter Camera Images

MGS MOC Release No. MOC2-1615, 6 December 2006

(A) MOC2-1615-a
Impact site; small crater with faint dark rays among small buttes and mesas.
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(B) MOC2-1615-b
Two MOC narrow angle camera views of the impact site; on left is before the impact, from 1 January 2004; on right is view after the impact, 22 February 2006.
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(C) MOC2-1615-c
Two views of impact site; on right is portion of THEMIS image obtained 21 December 2005; on left is same THEMIS image with MOC narrow angle image obtained 22 Februaray 2006 (with impact) overlain.
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NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems

Pictured here is the second of 2 of the 20 new impact craters identified by the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) science operations team to have formed between May 1999 and March 2006 that occur at a location that the MOC narrow angle camera imaged previously. This is surprising, given that the narrow angle camera, with its 3 kilometer- (1.9 miles)- wide field of view, has only covered about 5.2% of the martian surface. The other such case is described in an accompanying release, “One of Two Fresh Impact Crater Sites With Before and After Narrow Angle Mars Orbiter Camera Images”.

(A) The first picture (top) shows the impact site. It is located in Arabia Terra near 25.8°N, 308.0°W. The figure is a composite of sub-frames of MOC images S15-02322, obtained on 22 February 2006, and S17-01393, from 17 April 2006. The largest crater at the center of the impact zone has a diameter of about 16.0 ± 1.7 meters (about 52 feet). Several other smaller craters were formed by this impact event.

(B) The second figure (middle) shows how the impact site appeared in a previous MOC narrow angle camera image, R13-00039, on 1 January 2004, before the impact occurred. This is compared with MOC image S15-02322, obtained after the impact.

(C) The third figure (bottom) shows the impact site as it appeared to the Mars Odyssey Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) visible camera on 21 December 2005. Most importantly, the crater did not exist on 21 December 2005, but the dark spot the impact produced was seen 42 days later in MOC red wide angle image S14-03311 on 31 January 2006. In other words, the impact occurred between 21 December 2005 and 31 January 2006. It is possible that the crater formed in January 2006, after we began our survey for fresh martian impact craters!

Accompanying captioned releases and other material regarding present-day impact cratering on Mars:

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Malin Space Science Systems and the California Institute of Technology built the MOC using spare hardware from the Mars Observer mission. MSSS operates the camera from its facilities in San Diego, California. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Mars Surveyor Operations Project operates the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft with its industrial partner, Lockheed Martin Astronautics, from facilities in Pasadena, California and Denver, Colorado.