The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has detected many landslides, or ‘Dust Avalanches’ on Mars during the course of its mission. Some have even been photographed mid-slide. These slides all have a common cause: water and carbon dioxide ice in the ground melts with the changing seasons, making the walls of canyons unstable till eventually the deposits of dust break free and cascade down to the floor.
This newest landslide is unique in that it seems to have been caused by a meteoroid impact. The image on the right clearly shows a pristine impact crater of about 4.5 meters diameter (indicating an object of about half a meter’s diameter) right above the landslide which suggests that the force of the impact knocked the material loose. Another first for the MRO!