Surprise! There’s a crater under that glacier!

Scientists use radar mapping to discover an enormous impact crater hidden in Greenland
crater The ice covering the Hiawatha impact crater is about one kilometre deep. That will keep it hidden, alright! (NASA/Cindy Starr)


Ever had a permanently messy room in your home? (Yeah, yeah ... us, too.)

But seriously. Sometimes, that sweater thrown in the corner of your room? It sits there for so long, that you start to forget that there's anything even under that sweater. It just becomes the new surface of the floor.

In that way, imagine the Arctic as just one big messy room. And those sweaters and blankets thrown everywhere? Those are glaciers. What's underneath them? Huh ... never really thought about that ...

But a bunch of scientists did think about that. (Scientists. Is there anything they don't think about?) And using radar mapping on the Hiawatha Glacier on island of Greenland—plus detailed analysis of the surrounding sands—they even managed to take a peek underneath without moving the glacier at all. And what did they find?

A crater.

No, we mean a CRATER

Okay. Perhaps that answer didn't get you suitably excited. You were hoping for gold or a long-lost species of ice monster or that extra Halloween candy that has to be around here somewhere. Fair enough.

But this is no ordinary crater that we're talking about. For one, this thing is enormous. It's about 31 kilometres (19 miles) wide—that's bigger than the size of the entire city of Paris!

And it was likely caused by a kilometre-wide asteroid slamming into the planet.

Which, when it happened, probably looked like this:

(NASA/Brian Monroe)

Yeah, now we have your attention. BOOM!

A shock to the system

But what is truly exciting here, is that this crater happened quite recently. Sure, by recently, we still mean tens and even hundreds of thousands of years ago. But this is much younger than, say, the asteroid that hit the Yucatan Peninsula and killed off the dinosaurs.

And while this Hiawatha crater is much smaller than the one left by that 65 million-year-old dinosaur killer, its impact would've had a profound effect on the area and even the planet. What effect? Well, that's the next part of the puzzle—there's so much more research to be done!

To get yourself caught up on where the research is currently, watch this handy dandy video from NASA.

Amazing, right? Like they say in the video, the crater was just there, hiding in plain sight. Sort of makes you wonder ... what is hiding in plain sight under that old gym bag upstairs ...?


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