NASA has released a stunning image of a unique crater on Mars with strange luminous ridges that give it the appearance of a human fingerprint.
The crater in the photo is known as Airy-0, a 0.5-kilometre (0.3-mile) wide depression that lies within the much larger Airy crater, which is about 43.5 kilometers (27 miles). ) Wide. The newly released image was taken on September 8, 2021, using the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and was shared by NASA in a instagram post on april 11
In 1884, astronomers originally chose the larger Airy crater to mark the prime meridian of Mars, the zero degree longitude line where East meets West, according to POT. On land, the prime meridian is marked by the Royal Greenwich Observatory in the United Kingdom, which marks the boundary between the eastern and western hemispheres. Airy Craters are named after the British astronomer Sir George Biddell Airy, who built the telescope at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich that first detected the massive crater.
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Astronomers chose Airy to mark the Martian prime meridian because it was large enough to be seen by telescopes at the time. “But as higher resolution photos became available, a smaller feature was needed,” NASA representatives wrote on Instagram. Scientists chose Airy-0 to replace Airy as the main meridian marker because it was the right size but would not require drastic changes to existing maps, according to the publication.
Airy Crater is located in a region known as Sinus Meridiani, which translates to “Middle Bay,” according to NASA.
The luminous ridges in the crater are known as transverse wind ridges (TARs), Abigail Fraeman, a planetary scientist and deputy project scientist for NASA’s Curiosity rover, told WordsSideKick.com. “TARs are a feature we commonly see in craters and other depressions on Mars,” she added.
The ridges are made up of sand dunes that get covered in a thin layer of dust, Fraeman said. The dust covering the TARs on Airy-0 is likely hematite, a mineral made of iron oxide, which is abundant in the surrounding region and gives the ground a gray color in the photo. The hematite dust is likely reflective, making the TARs stand out from the rest of the crater.
This is not the first time that strange lines have been observed in Martian craters.
On March 30, the European Space Agency (ESA) released images of a pair of craters taken by ESA’s Mars Express orbiter. One of these craters showed evidence of “brain terrain,” ripples that looked remarkably similar to ridges on a human brain. However, these lines were caused by ice deposits rather than TAR, Live Science’s sister site. Space.com reported.
In June 2021, the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, a joint mission of ESA and the Russian space agency Roscosmos, captured images of a puzzling crater with concentric tree-like rings. Again, these features were probably due to ice from the kite who gave birth to him, and not TAR, Live Science previously reported.
Originally published on Live Science.