The area of the planet Mars is more than 144million square kilometers, and it is full of all kinds of geological formations. Recently, the powerful camera of the European interplanetary station Mars Express was able to capture something that could fit into the pages of a science fiction novel with horror elements. We are talking about an unnamed crater on the southern hemisphere of Mars, which has the area of a large city and outwardly resembles a lifeless eye looking into space. According to scientists, this formation can reveal a lot of interesting information about the history of the Red Planet. Let's find out what the crankcase shown in the photograph is and how was it formed?
- 1 Eye on the surface of Mars
- 2 When did craters form on planets?
- 3 Lowell crater features
- 4 Mars Express interplanetary station
Eye on the surface of Mars
The unnamed crater has a diameter of about 30kilometers, which is comparable to the size of a small earthly city. It is located in the southern hemisphere of the planet, in an area known as Aonia Terra. Inside the huge depression there are other smaller craters. It is believed that as a result of the impacts that formed these depressions on the surface of Mars, many rocks located at great depths were extracted. That is why scientists believe that the "huge creepy eye" will be able to shed light on many secrets of the Red Planet.
One side of the huge crater is littered withholes, while the other is smoother. There is a dark “pupil” in the middle, but scientists at the moment cannot say exactly what material it consists of. The quality of the photograph taken by the Mars Express interplanetary station is impressive. However, it would be nice if a rover like Perseverance, which can take rock samples and analyze them, descended into the area of \u200b\u200bthe crater found. Then we would have learned much more than we do now.
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When did planetary craters form?
At the moment it can be assumed that millionsyears ago, water flowed near the crater or right inside it. This is hinted at by the presence of numerous channels, clearly created by the flows of liquid water. Most likely, the huge crater was formed about 4 billion years ago, during the late heavy bombardment. So it is customary to call the time period during which most craters formed on Earth, the Moon and Mars. It is believed that the terrestrial planets were subject to asteroid bombardment due to the fact that objects from the asteroid belt changed their direction as a result of a change in the orbit of the gas giants.
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Lowell Crater Features
It is noteworthy that the Martian formation inthe shape of a huge eye is located near the Lowell crater with a diameter of 200 kilometers. Photos of this crater at one time were also taken by the Mars Express spacecraft. The image below shows a topographic map of the Lowell Deep, with blue and purple representing the deepest areas and white, yellow and red representing the high regions. It is believed that after the formation from the impact of a huge asteroid, the depression was filled many times with hot lava.
Since we are talking about the Lowell crater, there will be noit is superfluous to tell an interesting story about the person after whom it is named. The formation got its name in honor of the American businessman Percival Lowell, who in 1907 discovered the asteroid (793) Arizona. Being an active explorer of Mars, at the beginning of the 20th century, he put forward a hypothesis that an intelligent civilization lives on the Red Planet and we simply cannot contact them yet. His assumption was based on the results of the work of the Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli, who in the 1870s saw direct channels on Mars - an American businessman believed that they were clearly created by someone. Despite his too bold statements, Percival Lowell made a huge contribution to science and an asteroid, craters on the Moon and on Mars, as well as an entire region on Pluto are named after him.
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Interplanetary station "Mars Express"
As for the Mars Express apparatus, it waslaunched into space in June 2003 and, as you might have guessed, has been working great ever since. For all the time of his work, he managed to fly past the Martian satellite of Phobos and measure its gravity, take a picture of its reverse side and help scientists make many other important scientific discoveries. It also broke down, but specialists from the European Space Agency were able to fix it.
Mass of the Mars Express space stationis 1123 kilograms: of which 113 kg is for scientific equipment, 65 kg for the descent vehicle with the Beagle-2 automatic station, and 430 kg for fuel. One of the most important devices of the station is a camera capable of taking pictures with a resolution of 10 meters. There is also an OMEGA spectrometer for remote geological studies, but this method of determining the composition of rocks is less effective than sampling and studying in the laboratory. Also an important tool is the MARSIS radar, which in 2018 proved the presence of a subglacial lake on the planet's southern polar cap.
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