Amazing impact crater where a triple asteroid smashed into Mars

January 29, 2015 by Nancy Atkinson, Universe Today
A triple crater in Elysium Planitia on Mars. Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

At first glance, you many not guess that this feature on Mars is an impact crater. The reason it looks so unusual is that it likely is a triple impact crater, formed when three asteroids struck all at once in the Elysium Planitia region.

Why do think the three craters did not form independently at different times?

"The ejecta blanket appears to be uniform around the triple-crater showing no signs of burial or overlapping ejecta from overprinting craters," write scientists Eric Pilles, Livio Tornabene, Ryan Hopkins, and Kayle Hansen on the HiRISE website. "The crater rims are significantly stunted where the craters overlap."

This oblong-shaped crater could have been created from a triple asteroid, or it could have been a binary asteroid, and one broke apart, creating the three overlapping craters. The team says the two larger craters must have been produced by asteroids of approximately the same size, probably on the order of a few hundred meters across.

"The northern crater might have been created by a smaller asteroid, which was orbiting the larger binary pair, or when one of the binary asteroids broke up upon entering the atmosphere," the team explained. "The shape of the triple-crater is oblong, suggesting an oblique impact; therefore, another alternative would be that the split upon impact and ricocheted across the surface, creating additional craters."

Studying craters on Mars—and there are lots of them, thanks to Mars' sparse atmosphere—can help estimate the ages of different terrains, as well as revealing materials such as ice or minerals that get exposed from the impact.

Explore further: Research group suggests Chicxulub crater may have been caused by binary asteroids

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13 comments

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cantdrive85
1.7 / 5 (11) Jan 29, 2015
There is an explanation which accounts for this and most other craters, rilles, canyons, mounds, and ridges as well as other anomalous geologic features such as Olympus Mons and Valles Marineris on Mars and other planetary type bodies.

https://www.youtu...1e5_tB6Y

Note that all of the proposed phenomena are based upon known plasma processes that are able to be tested and researched.
Vietvet
4.3 / 5 (11) Jan 29, 2015
Note that the craters, rilles, canyons, mounds, ridges and other geological features have natural explanations that have been observed. EU has never been observed in nature.
cantdrive85
1.4 / 5 (9) Jan 29, 2015
Note that the craters, rilles, canyons, mounds, ridges and other geological features have natural explanations that have been observed. EU has never been observed in nature.

Not surprisingly, your idiocy is showing. Plasma discharge is a natural process, it is observed every minute of the day here on Earth and elsewhere. Your willful ignorance blinds you.

BTW, there are a number of features shown in the video that have no other explanation other than electric discharge.
rossim22
1.6 / 5 (7) Jan 29, 2015
IMO the most distinguishable trait of a discharge crater vs impact crater is the scalloped edges and overlapping craters, not too mention that hardly any oblong craters are found, even on comets and asteroids. I understand that a massive impact with very high velocity could result in a round, symmetrical crater. But on asteroids and comets those explosions should destroy the nucleus. Take a look at the massive crater on Mimas or the exquisite cratering pattern on the negatively charged moon Hyperion.

Also, crater chains and overlapping discharge craters will be the same depth. This is exactly how electric discharge machining gets a smooth macroscopic surface with millions of microscopic pits. In order to create the same pattern with impacts of different sizes, the larger objects would have to be moving slower than smaller objects with perfect proportion to produce the same force explosion.
rockwolf1000
4.4 / 5 (7) Jan 30, 2015
Note that the craters, rilles, canyons, mounds, ridges and other geological features have natural explanations that have been observed. EU has never been observed in nature.

Not surprisingly, your idiocy is showing. Plasma discharge is a natural process, it is observed every minute of the day here on Earth and elsewhere. Your willful ignorance blinds you.


"Your willful ignorance blinds you."

Says he who doesn't believe in erosion.

Even if plasma discharges could make geological features it wouldn't mean it makes all or even a significant fraction of them. Much simpler explanations exist.

Erosion for one.

Impactors for another.

Do you also think plasma discharges cause flatulence?
cantdrive85
1.7 / 5 (6) Jan 30, 2015
Maybe you could point to where I said I don't "believe" in erosion.

Since there is no evidence of liquid water on Mars, how exactly do you propose erosion is a "much simpler explanation"?

Impactors?

I'm sure you have a "simple explanation" for these side by side bullseye craters on Mars.

http://cdn4.sci-n...arge.jpg

And a "simple explanation" for these hexagonal craters.

https://www.googl...;bih=767

Seems simpler that there is a single unifying explanation for all these phenomena.
rockwolf1000
4.2 / 5 (5) Jan 30, 2015
Maybe you could point to where I said I don't "believe" in erosion.


When you suggested the grand canyon was created by EDM. (in a different thread)

Since there is no evidence of liquid water on Mars, how exactly do you propose erosion is a "much simpler explanation"?


Evidence for liquid water abounds on Mars

Impactors?

I'm sure you have a "simple explanation" for these side by side bullseye craters on Mars.


Indeed I do. Either multiple objects at close distances or a larger object that broke up as per the article.

Seems simpler that there is a single unifying explanation for all these phenomena.


Yes. Gravity
jhananda
not rated yet Jan 30, 2015
Think again, because it looks like 4 impact craters
cantdrive85
1.7 / 5 (6) Jan 31, 2015
When you suggested the grand canyon was created by EDM. (in a different thread)

It's unfortunate for yourself that you have such a myopic POV. First, electric discharge can erode surfaces. Secondly, the presence of EDM does not preclude water and wind from eroding surfaces, such a suggestion is moronic and yours.

Evidence for liquid water abounds on Mars


It is only implied, largely through misinterpretation.

Impactors?


Indeed I do. Either multiple objects at close distances or a larger object that broke up as per the article.

LOL! They'll need to be very close considering Mars' rotation. The odds of the side by side phenomena would indeed be astronomical.

Seems simpler that there is a single unifying explanation for all these phenomena.


Yes. Gravity

Yep, gravity induced hexagonal craters! Lest we not gloss over the difficult explanations.
Vietvet
3.7 / 5 (6) Jan 31, 2015
@cantdrive

You can't provide a single provable instance of a plasma discharge of causing a geological feature.

Do you understand the laughter from those of us who respect science?
rockwolf1000
4.4 / 5 (7) Jan 31, 2015
@ cantdrive

I can't understand why you think side by side craters are requiring fantastic explanations.

If a large bolide were to enter the atmosphere and subsequently break up and achieve some degree of separation before impact. A very slight spacing of fragments at an angle could easily produce this impact crater with near simultaneous impact times.

Did you not see Shoemaker/Levy 9? You see how a body can break up before impact to create a chain of craters whose linear separation is dependant on geometric preconditions.

Then there are binary asteroids which are known to exist which could also create similar features. http://en.wikiped...asteroid

I see no reason to invoke fantastic and magical plasma beams especially considering there is no evidence for such.

cantdrive85
1.7 / 5 (6) Jan 31, 2015
@cantdrive

You can't provide a single provable instance of a plasma discharge of causing a geological feature.

Do you understand the laughter from those of us who respect science?

You don't "respect" science, you only "respect" what you choose to believe.

BTW, here is some evidence for you...

http://phys.org/n...ing.html

Peer reviewed papers discussing plasma arc discharge on Io;

http://www.scienc...422/1071

http://plasmauniv...sler.pdf

I am currently laughing at a senile old man.
cantdrive85
1.8 / 5 (5) Jan 31, 2015
Did you not see Shoemaker/Levy 9?


Yep, didn't see any "bullseye" craters though. Yes, two impact craters can occur side by side, but two impacts with two secondary impacts directed at the center of the initial craters?

http://cdn4.sci-n...arge.jpg

Notice the terraced crater walls which also defy impact scenarios.

Do impact craters exist? Absolutely! Is that the only mechanism at work in the solar system? Unlikely.

http://www.setter...ins.html

BTW, still no mention of the "simple explanation" of hexagonal craters. Figure that up yet? Maybe the bolide was an octagon...

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