Elevation map of Mars showing how deep Hellas Basin is compared to the rest of the planet. Image credit: Planetary Science Institute.

Elevation map of Mars showing how deep Hellas Basin is compared to the rest of the planet. Image credit: Planetary Science Institute.

Happy Monday, Earthlings!

This week, we are going to explore the mysteries of Hellas Basin, or here on Mars what we'd like to call "The Core Destructor!"

Mars was once a happily rotating planet, with a full magnetic field with probably a thicker atmosphere and water. But one not-so-ordinary day, a giant asteroid smacked into the surface SO HARD that it disrupted Mars' core. The crash didn't break anything, but it slowed the core of Mars substantially. And when the core slows, the generation of a mantle slows. Which would slow the magnetic field to be almost obsolete. Which would then remove the protective barrier from the Sun's harmful radiation and strips away the atmosphere and potentially vaporize the water. Welcome to Hellas Basin- the site of this destructive crash!

Here are some fun facts about this amazingly large impact structure!

1- Hellas Basin spans more than 2,000 km across and more than 4 kilometers deep (which is 2.5 times greater depth than the Grand Canyon!)

2- After the impact, many different forms of geology would fill the bottom, from glaciers to volcanic glass to dunes!

3-It is the largest visible impact structure in the Solar System and the third largest impact basin!

4- Much of the global dust storm winds originate from here. On Mars, when temperatures vary greatly, dust and wind are at its strongest. The temperature difference between the bottom of the basin to the top is more than 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Strong winds and dust would swirl in large storms and crawl out of the basin (sounds like a scary sci-fi movie!)

Gully and bedrock structures within Hellas Basin. Image credit: HiRISE-ASU.

Gully and bedrock structures within Hellas Basin. Image credit: HiRISE-ASU.

Thank you for reading and come back next week for a segment on past and present Venus missions!