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Mars Global Surveyor
Mars Orbiter Camera

Fresh Crater in Arabia Terra With Light-Toned Ejecta

MGS MOC Release No. MOC2-1616, 6 December 2006

(A) MOC2-1616-a
Large view of impact site; small dark crater at center of light-toned ejecta and rays.
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(B) MOC2-1616-b
Two images, side by side, showing THEMIS infrared views of the impact site before (30 June 2002) and after (5 October 2003) the impact occurred.
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(C) MOC2-1616-c
Two images, side by side, showing MOC red wide angle camera views of the impact site before (31 August 1999) and after (7 May 2003) the impact.
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NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems

While most of the new impact craters found on Mars by the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) have dark ejecta patterns, a few of them also have light-toned ejecta, indicating that the impacting meteorite excavated to a depth where a light-toned material was present. The images shown here describe one example.

(A) The first picture (top) shows a sub-frame of MOC image S15-02724, acquired on 26 February 2006. The single small crater of about 22.6 ± 3.0 meters (about 74 feet) in diameter is surrounded by light and dark-toned ejecta. The crater occurs near 20.6°N, 356.8°W, in Arabia Terra.

(B) The second figure (middle) shows how the impact site appeared to the Mars Odyssey Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) infrared instrument before and after the impact. The white circle indicates the location of the impact site. Both images are from THEMIS band 9 (~12.6 micrometers wavelength); the first image was obtained on 30 June 2002, the second on 5 October 2003. In the 2003 image, the impact site appears as a bright spot, because it was warmer than the surroundings at the time the data were acquired.

(C) The third and final figure (bottom) shows how the impact site appeared to the MGS MOC red wide angle cameras. The first image shows the site before the impact, on 31 August 1999. The second shows the impact site as it appeared on 7 May 2003.

Taken together, the Mars Odyssey THEMIS and MGS MOC data indicate that this impact occurred some time between 30 June 2002 and 7 May 2003.

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.