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The HiRISE team from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has captured a few avalanches on Mars, some actually while in progress. But this latest landslide is a little different.
Above is a dust avalanche that created a streak on the slopes of Olympus Mons, the solar system's largest volcano. While scientists believe some of the previous avalanches seen on Mars occur due to the expansion and contraction of ice from seasonal temperature differences, this one was caused by an impact event.
This HiRISE image was taken on March 31, 2010 and reveals a small, pristine impact crater (blue arrow). "It shows a fuzzy source area, which resembles the airblast patterns seen at many other recent impact sites," said Alfred McEwen, Principal Investigator for HiRISE. "The crater is only about 4.5 meters across, meaning the bolide was only about a half a meter wide, so it didn't take much to trigger this landslide."
Planetary scientists say that landslides or avalanches on Mars can also be caused by small Mars-quakes or the sublimation of carbon dioxide frost which dislodges rocks