By: April Carson
The crater is the halfway point on Mars, according to NASA.
This is the first time that a crater on Mars has been photographed in such high detail. The photo was taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
NASA has published a stunning photo of Mars showing a strange, bright ridges that resemble a human fingerprint.
The Airy-0 depression, which is about 0.3 miles (0.5 kilometers) in diameter, sits within the much larger Airy crater, which measures around 27 miles (43.5 km) wide. NASA shared a picture of the newly released image taken by the High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on April 11th via Instagram.
This is not the first time that strange features on Mars have been likened to earthly phenomena. In 2018, for example, another HiRISE photo showed what appeared to be a "spider" on the surface of the red planet.
The original choice for Mars' prime meridian was the larger Airy crater, according to NASA, which was first designated in 1884. The prime meridian on Earth is defined by the Greenwich Royal Observatory in England, which separates the Eastern and Western hemispheres. The Airy craters got their names after British Astronomer Sir George Biddell Airy, who constructed the first telescope at the Greenwich Royal Observatory that discovered the enormous crater.
Because it was large enough to be seen by telescopes at the time, astronomers selected Airy as the Martian prime meridian. "But with improved resolution photos becoming available, a smaller feature was required," NASA representatives stated on Instagram. According to the post, scientists chose Airy-0 as the prime meridian marker because it was big enough while not requiring fundamental modifications to existing maps.
The crater is located in the Terra Cimmeria region of Mars and is about 1,800 miles (3,000 kilometers) across. The new image was taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
The Airy crater is in the Middle Bay region of Sinus Meridiani, which means "Middle Bay" to NASA.
The ridges on the crater's floor are called transverse aeolian ridges (TARs), Abigail Fraeman, a planetary scientist and deputy project scientist for NASA's Curiosity rover, told Live Science. "We frequently observe TARs in Martian craters and other depressions," she clarified.
The ridges are caused by sand dunes that are covered in a thin layer of dust, according to Fraeman. The dust covering the TARs in Airy-0 is most likely hematite, a mineral composed of iron oxide found in the region and giving the surface a gray color in the photo. The hematite dust is probably reflective, thus making the TARs stand out from other parts of the crater.
This is not the first time strange lines have been detected on Mars. In 2015, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spied strange "X" shaped markings on the Red Planet that appeared to have been made by dust devils.
On March 30, the European Space Agency (ESA) released pictures of two craters captured by ESA's Mars Express probe. One of these craters revealed "brain terrain," ripples that appeared to be identical to human brain ridges. These lines, on the other hand, were caused by ice deposits rather than TARs, according to Live Science's sister site Space.com.
The strange lines in this new photograph, however, remain a mystery. It is possible that they are a trick of the light, or that they are simply an optical illusion. But until we have more information, the Martian fingerprint will continue to baffle and amaze us.
In 2021, the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter — a collaboration between ESA and Russia's space agency Roscosmos — obtained photos of an odd crater with concentric "tree-like" rings. These characteristics were most likely caused by ice from the comet that gave birth to it, not TARs, as previously reported by Live Science.
As for the new "fingerprint" crater, it's unclear what created its unique features. It's possible that they were caused by an impact, but it's also possible that they're the result of erosion.
The findings were originally published on Live Science.
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About the Blogger:
April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on bossbabymav.com
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