Landslide on Mars triggered by an impact

By Phil Plait | May 10, 2010 6:52 pm

mars-impact-avalancheUniverse Today is reporting that a recent landslide on Mars looks to be triggered by a small (under 1 meter) rock hitting the surface of the planet. The landslide is less than three years old, and a new impact crater near the top appears to be the culprit.

Go to the UT article to get details. And look at the bigger version there of the image taken by the HiRISE camera; there’s a much larger crater near the bottom of the slide, and you can see where the dust rolled into it and up the far slope of the crater wall, but only partway! It’s yet another amazing shot of the dynamic surface of this nearby world.

Comments (13)

  1. But who’s to say the landslide didn’t cause the meteorite impact, huh?! Oh, wait. I’m being needlessly argumentative, been spending waaaay too much time reading blog comments…

    ;)

  2. LcNessie

    I guess that (sand)skiing on that particular slope is a *wee* bit dangerous and out of the question? ;)

    Awesome picture…

  3. Messier Tidy Upper

    @ ^ LcNessie : You can ski on sand – What The Hell!? Besides you’d need a spacesuit to do anything on Mars (other than die quickly) – at least currently.

    Great image & news – thanks BA & HiRISE folks. :-)

  4. DLC

    Bah! Obviously it’s the reptilians testing a new weapon ! somebody call David Icke!

  5. Patricia

    Speaking of Mars, have you seen “Total Recall: The Musical” yet? It’s BREATHTAKING! ;-)
    “I’ll find out who I am, by climbing da mountains of Mars!

  6. mike burkhart

    Well this is amazing of course this happens on Earth but with snow insted of dust.Buy the way the movie Futureworld witch is the sequal to Westworld shows skiing on Mars it only simulated thro.I think if ihabit other planets we will have new sports.

  7. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    The impact of impacts, “meta-impacting”, huh?

    I know that HiRISE resolution is less than that, but to actually note the effects of individual rocks on the landscape at those dimensions (even if by a slide and a crater much larger) is amazing.

    On another note, marstronauts will have to face dual dangers when out exploring. Soon you will tell me even the minutest dust on Mars is a danger.

    Wouldn’t it be ironic if the only comparatively safe solar system body to explore outside Earth would be Titan, on account of its similar atmosphere? Dense enough to protect from impactors and weather away the instabilities of the landscape and roughness of dust, while not prohibitively dense.

  8. Clearly it is the shadow of a ghost (Space Ghost? Ghosts of Mars?), arms raised.

  9. UmTutSut

    OK, ‘splain, Loocie. I know the article says, “…this landslide disturbed either bare substrate or compacted, older dust.” That doesn’t explain to me, limited as is my knowledge of Martian surface processes, how a large dark avalance results from light-colored surface materials. Would someone more knowledgable explain in layperson’s terms?

  10. John Keller

    It looks like the shadow cast by the Tar Monster from Scooby Doo.

  11. Brian Davis

    One odd thing to me is the apparent pristine structures of the craters downhill with the impact. For a significant slide, the disturbance seems confined to only the surface materials, and uniformly the surface layers – no obvious shadowing of the surface downhill of rocks or craters, no enhancement of effects on steeper slopes, etc. Surprising (to me, at least).

  12. Joseph

    @Patricia HAHAHA! That was awesome!

    @UmTutSut I myself not having a thorough understanding either I would hazard a guess that the surface level is covered in a lighter more easily blown material then what ever is underneath. There may also be a bleaching component at work or other weathering effect.

    Either way the upper layer having fallen away would expose the lower layer no? As well as dragging some of the underlying material with it and all of it getting mixed up. The upper lighter layer would have been thin and probably over whelmed color wise by the darker layers beneath.

  13. Radwaste

    I suggest a name for this crater: “Coyote”

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