Scientists from the space research program NASA are perplexed by a scaly circle on the surface of Mars. According to the Daily Mail, the strange shape located in the red planet’s South Polar layered deposits is believed to be an impact crater. However, an accurate assessment of the circle can be complicated due to the planet’s icy surface.
A NASA statement reads, “Measuring the sizes and frequency of impact craters provides a constraint on the age of the landscape. However, 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.”
The image below was taken from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’s HiRISE. The circle can be seen surrounded by small specs and scientists are not completely sure what to make of the shape’s strange texture. Despite being a difficult process, researchers are using size and frequency to help potentially determine the circle’s age.
On March 27th, the organization’s MRO’s Context Camera (CTX) completed its 50,000th orbit, after taking about 90,000 images since first being used in 2006. NASA’s camera has explored about 99.1% of the red planet’s surface, sending images at about 20 feet per pixel. Hi-resolution images of Mars are paramount to the success of the current mission.
NASA believes that Mars’ icy surface will provide a safe platform for the astronauts’ work on the planet. Kevin Vipavetz from NASA’s Langley Research Center said, “after a day dedicated to identifying needs, goals and constraints we rapidly assessed many crazy, out of the box ideas and finally converged on the current Ice Home design, which provides a sound engineering solution.”
On October 8, 2015, NASA published an official plan for human exploration and the colonization of Mars called “Journey to Mars.” The plan works under three phases leading up to fully sustained colonization: The “Earth Reliant” phase, which is currently in progress, followed by the “Proving Ground” phase and finally the “Earth Independent” phase.