Home Pharmaceutics Giant ‘tree stump’ impact crater spotted on Mars

Giant ‘tree stump’ impact crater spotted on Mars

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This image from CaSSIS aboard the ExoMars TGO reveals an impact crater on Mars that looks like a tree stump. (Image credit: ESA/Roscosmos/CaSSIS, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO)

A Mars probe has captured a peculiar image of the Red Planet’s surface that looks like a giant tree stump, rings and all.

the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO), a joint mission of the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Russian space agency Roscosmos, is studying March from above, circling the planet and gathering data on its sparse atmosphere. But this orbital vantage point also allows TGO to see Mars from above, taking images with its CaSSIS (Color and Stereo Surface Imaging System) camera.

In a newly revealed image, the orbiter broke up on June 13, 2021 on the northern plains of Acidalia Planitia, a strange surface feature is turning heads. From above, it looks like a giant tree stump, with concentric rings marking its years of age. However, it is not an alien tree stump, but rather an ice-rich impact crater.

(Acidalia Planitia also happens to be the landing site for the human mission to Mars featured in the science fiction novel and movie “The Martian.”)

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Although the crater’s rings don’t indicate its age, the patterns inside the crater can help researchers better understand what makes up its structure and what happened on Mars throughout its history.

One thing scientists think they can say about the crater so far is that it is full of water-ice-rich deposits; deposits deposited much earlier in the history of the planet, according to a statement of the ESA. They think these deposits in the impact crater were deposited there when they did because of how the planet’s tilt, or axis of rotation, changed over time. The tilt of a planet, as we see on Earth, causes seasonal changes, and The tilt of Mars has changed quite dramatically over time relative to Earth’s tilt.

During this earlier period on Mars, the planet’s tilt, or axis of rotation, would have allowed deposits of water ice to form at lower latitudes than would be possible today, according to the communicated.

In fact, the visible “rings” and cracks in the crater are likely due to environmental changes over time. The researchers believe these features are the result of changing seasons and temperatures, causing material in the crater to expand and contract with heat and cold.

TGO arrived on Mars in 2016 as part of ESA’s ExoMars missions to study the planet from its orbit and surface. The mission continues to deliver images like this as well as data regarding Mars’ atmosphere, geology, surface, history and more.

Email Chelsea Godd at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @chelsea_gohd. Follow us on twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.