The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) of the USA published this Monday a stunning image of a crater on Marswhich has left Internet users completely amazed. “The Martian crater marks the place”, the space agency wrote in the caption of the Instagram image.
The space agency captured the image using a tool called the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) that belongs to the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, a spacecraft that has been orbiting the red planet for more than 17 years.
in a post Instagram, NASA shared the view of Airy-0, a Martian crater that astronomers call the prime Meridian, where the east and west measurements begin. Unlike a ecuadorthe line is arbitrary. But it helps scientists determine the coordinates on the red planet.
“Martian crater marks the spot,” NASA officials wrote in the caption below the image.
The crater also shows a series of ridgesWhat are they martian sand dunes. As on Earth, these dunes are created by the planet’s winds depositing fine particles, according to Paul Byrneplanetary scientist University of Washingtoncited by the Inverse site. This gives the interior of the crater the appearance of melon skin. However, it is definitely not edible, given the amount of toxic perchlorates in some areas of Mars.
In the HiRISE photo you can see the southern hemisphere of Marte In winter. The crater is distinguished with an unprecedented level of detail that even allows you to see the frost of carbon dioxide that generates the cold on the planet.
Airy crater originally served to define zero longitude for Marsjust as on Earth the Greenwich Observatory is used, in the city of London, in Great Britain.
The ravines that appear in the photograph they were created by debris flowing through the crater during the hottest months on Mars.
Just a few hours after the image was posted, the photo garnered nearly 300,000 likes. Hundreds of Instagram users also commented below the image to express their amazement.
“I’m not going to lie, the photo scares me a little! But really very interesting,” wrote one user.
“Wow! What an amazing image,” added a second person. “Looks like water,” noted a third Instagram user, while another wrote that “Looks like alien footprints.”
The photo was taken by Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on October 27, 2021. MRO has been in orbit around Mars since 2006, and it is both the main pair of eyes on Mars from space and one of two communications repeaters for missions to Mars in the 2001 Mars Odyssey orbiter.
Both spacecraft have been in orbit around Mars for quite some time, and while they continue to function, NASA has plans to eventually send a new orbiter as a safety mechanism, the Inverse note noted.
But an initial plan to launch one in the fall of 2022 was scrapped in favor of a mission that would be combined with a Mars sample return, to launch in the late 2020s. Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution it can also lose its orbit to serve as a temporary communications relay.