July 2010, November 2012, November 2013, February 2014

NASA‘s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter launched from Cape Canaveral in 2005. After a six month trip, and a few months of hard braking to get into position, it has sent back more data to Earth about Mars than any other mission to date.

Onboard the MRO are a slew of instruments. One is what they call a Context Camera. It takes photos of the Martian surface and watches for any changes over time before using its more sophisticated imaging equipment to zoom in for the detailed shots.

In July 2010 the MRO flew over a particular spot on Mars and snapped a photo of it with its Context Camera. Then, in late-2012, it flew over this same spot and noticed that something had changed. It was noted. Then, in November 2013, it took a much higher-resolution image of the impact crater. This image wasn’t posted online until February 5, 2014. Nearly four years after the impact could have happened.

There is some amazing work being done to thoroughly research Mars but it sure does take a while to get back to us. I can’t wait until we have realtime views of some of our nearest neighboring planets.

Source: Space Images, NASA, JPL.