A meteoroid recently slammed into the side of a hillside on Mars, exploding on impact, destabilising the slope and triggering a long avalanche. The crater only measures about five meters (16 feet) across, but the avalanche left a dark trail of dry dust stretching a full kilometre (0.62 miles) down the side of a slope in a hilly region of the red planet. The image was captured by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment – HiRISE – aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft.
In the pre-dawn twilight of Tuesday, 1 March, the 21-day-old waning gibbous Moon acts as a convenient celestial guide to planets Saturn and Mars. For observers in the centre of the British Isles, the best time to see this triple conjunction is shortly before 6am GMT, when the trio are highest in the sky to the south.
Liquid water existing on the surface of Mars, in the here and now, has been the holy grail of Martian exploration for some time, but in October 2015 NASA announced that the orbiting Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) had turned water-diviner to find compelling evidence that water is bursting out onto the red surface and trickling down the slopes of crater walls and hillsides.