Big Impact-Triggered Dust Avalanche

MRO’s Context camera (CTX) acquired the image at lower left on18 Nov 2007 and the adjacent image on 14 Feb 2010, showing a large new slope streak in the aureole (giant landslide deposits) of Olympus Mons.

Slope streaks (dust avalanches) are common on Mars but this one is unusually wide and it began from an unusual extended/fuzzy source area. HiRISE acquired the follow-up image (right) 31 March 2010, revealing a small, pristine impact crater (blue arrow) in the fuzzy source area, which resembles the airblast patterns seen at many other new (recent year) impact sites. We’ve conclude that an impact event occurred sometime between the dates of the CTX images and triggered a large dust avalanche.

Written by: Alfred McEwen   (5 May 2010)

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Image: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona