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Space & Astronomy

NASA photographs mysterious circle on Mars

By T.K. Randall
April 6, 2017 · Comment icon 12 comments

What could this be ? Image Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / University of Arizona
The space agency has released a new image of a peculiar circle on Mars - but what exactly is it ?
Nestled in the planet's South Pole region on ground that almost looks like the skin of a lizard, this unusual circular feature, which is surrounded by small bumps, is quite unlike anything that NASA's scientists have ever found on Mars before.

Picked up by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, the anomalous circle could be little more than an impact crater however it could also be some strange quirk of the polar landscape or perhaps even some previously unseen surface feature that is new to science - we simply don't know for sure.

"Craters in icy terrain are modified by processes that flatten and change them in such a manner that it is hard to say for sure if it had an impact origin," NASA wrote.

Source: | Comments (12)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #3 Posted by MJNYC 7 years ago
I was hoping for more....
Comment icon #4 Posted by bison 7 years ago
The entire area has a similar pebbly texture. The size of the 'pebbles' in and around the circular feature seem somewhat larger. It appears possible that a cratered terrain interacted with the geological mechanism that produced the pebbly surface, to produce this effect. Perhaps the steepness of the circular walls was involved, and/or some chemical change in the soil caused by the impact of the supposed cratering event.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Dakotabre 7 years ago
Anyone else notice the lines on Mars in the photo on the cnet page?...The Long Straight Ones. Kind of like the Nazca Lines? Wonder if they would match up to any?
Comment icon #6 Posted by bison 7 years ago
Now that you mention it, I do see the dark straight lines. They are more obvious in the version of the image in the cnet article. It covers a wider area. The most prominent of these lines crosses the large circular feature, without apparent interruption or change. Since these lines are oriented in various directions, it seems unlikely that they are due to a scanning artifact in the image.
Comment icon #7 Posted by paperdyer 7 years ago
Could the lines just be from where all the shots are put together to form the pic?  Except for the dark shadowy one of course.
Comment icon #8 Posted by bison 7 years ago
All the lines are dark, to some degree. This is simply more obvious in the one crossing the circular feature. Hard to see why the joins between images should be dark at the edges. I looked into the issue of dark, linear surface features on Mars, but all that was turned up was informations on the Martian 'canals' and how their existence was long ago disproven.  
Comment icon #9 Posted by pallidin 7 years ago
That is one very old impact crater, it seems.
Comment icon #10 Posted by pallidin 7 years ago
Nah, those are lines formed many years ago by Martian motorcycles. In all seriousness, though, it would be curious to investigate that site, and those lines, presuming it's not an imaging artifact.
Comment icon #11 Posted by bison 7 years ago
HiRISE is essentially a close-up, detail-oriented imager. The round feature should be somewhere between 150 meters and 750 meters in diameter. No indications were found that the full image, which is 1200 to 1600 meters across, was a panorama made up of separate images.
Comment icon #12 Posted by ChrLzs 7 years ago
The darkish lines are simply tracks from the frequent 'dust devils' that blow across the surface.  This area is obviously fairly flat and thus the winds tend to blow straight across it (these tracks are often curved) and because of that the d-ds go in pretty straight lines, thereabouts... As for the crater, not really my area... but here's a cropped, higher res version of that image, with a slight contrast enhancement:

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