A new crater was discovered on the surface of Mars by the European Space Agency Mars Express probe: images taken by its HRSC instrument (High Resolution Stereo Camera) show a large cavity about 4 kilometers deep, covering a diameter of 50 km, with a small depression in the center. The HRSC instrument, managed by German Space Agency DLR, took the pictures of the crater during the 14,680th orbit on July 29, 2015.
The crater, located south-west of ‘Mare Serpentis’ flat area in the ‘Noachis Terra‘ region, was caused by impact. The ‘Noachis Terra’ region is one of the oldest of the planet, almost 4 billion years ago, particularly representative of the ancient Martian surface because of its studded with craters conformation. These features are commonly found on bodies in the Solar System: it is believed that the formation of such craters is connected to the reaction of the frozen material that is vaporized in the heat developed by a collision.
As seen in the false color image, the edges of the crater are slightly raised with respect to the surrounding areas and may have formed as a result of the impact of a body compacting powdery material; the cracks that can be seen inside the cavity are possibly attributed to the erosion of the water, present in the form of ice and in an underground layer, melting in the Sun, driving fluvial erosion processes and so beginning to shape the crater walls.
Mars Express was launched June 2, 2003 and reached the orbit of Mars after just over six months. The mission includes the study of Mars atmosphere, the mapping of its surface and the analysis of its sub-surface structures to search for water or ice.
Currently waiting for graduation from her BS Civil Engineering, her future plans include university-level courses focusing on disaster management, Earth and planetary science (mainly Mars) and aviation. She will volunteer for a charitable organization as well as develop an educational project for the kids in her hometown.