NASA’s efforts on the Red Planet have resulted in thousands of images, some more mystifying than others, but few quite as powerful as a high-resolution photograph taken of a fresh asteroid impact. The photo features the resulting crater in the middle, and shows the huge rayed blast zone around it, revealing something akin to blackened sunbeams.
The image was taken by NASA’s High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera, also known as the HiRISE, located on the agency’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The impact is relatively new, and the image itself was snapped back in November 2013. As with many of its other images, NASA has made the high-res version available to download.
The exact date of the asteroid isn’t known, though it falls sometime between July 2010 and May 2012 as determined by observation differences in Context Camera imagery. It was these noticed differences in appearance that prompted NASA to photograph the area with HiRISE, revealing a large impact with rayed blackened streaks across Mars’ surface.
The crater is said to be about 100 feet across, and surrounding debris was thrown more than 9 miles away from the epicenter. Says the space agency, the impact zone appears blue because of the dusty nature of where the astroid hit, with the enhanced color resulting from the elimination of Mars’ familiar red dust from the location.