Deep down in the Sahara Desert are some of the most well-preserved mines on Earth. On Asteroid Day, the Copernicus Sentinel-2 campaign takes us to the nearly circular Tenoumer Crater in Mauritania.
The Tenor Crater, visible in the center of the image, is 1.9 km wide. Crater rims rise about 110 feet [110 m] above the base, but the bottom of the crater is covered with a thickness of about 200 to 300 feet [200 to 300 m].
It had long been argued that a volcano or a meteorite formed a crater. Scattered rocks around the hole, such as basalt, create the impression of an ancient volcano. However, a closer inspection of the building revealed that the crater’s solid “lava” was a rock that had been melted down due to a meteorite impact.
The crater lives on a vast expanse of ancient rock formations dating back hundreds of millions of years before the first dinosaurs left Earth. Even though it lives on an ancient rock, Tenoumer is very small, ranging in age from 10,000 to 30,000 years old.
This false Sentinel-2 color photograph, taken on May 16, 2022, depicts a dry area around the hole in various shades of brown, blue, and orange.
Asteroid Day is a United Nations-sanctioned day-awareness event on June 30. More than a million asteroids have been identified in the Solar System, and more are expected to be available. ESA’s Planetary Defense Office, ESA’s Near-Earth Object Liaison Center, and astronomers worldwide are looking to keep us safe, working together to ensure we know precisely when an asteroid is found in a collision.