Earth from Space — Outback crater

The Shoemaker Impact Structure in Western Australia, seen from orbit.

The Shoemaker Impact Structure in Western Australia, seen from orbit.

THE SHOEMAKER (FORMERLY TEAGUE) IMPACT STRUCTURE—located in Western Australia in a drainage basin south of the Waldburg Range—presents an other-worldly appearance in this photograph taken by an astronaut aboard the International Space Station.

The Shoemaker impact structure is approximately 30 kilometres in diameter and clearly defined by concentric ring structures formed in sedimentary rocks (brown to dark brown, image centre).

The structure is thought to have formed following the impact of a large meteoroid approximately 1.63 billion years ago, although some age-dating analyses of rocks at the core of the structure have called this age into question.

Several saline and ephemeral lakes—Nabberu, Teague, Shoemaker, and numerous smaller ponds—are found between the ring structures. Differences in colour result from both water depth and from suspended sediments, with some bright salt crusts visible around the edges of smaller ponds (image centre).

The Teague Impact Structure was renamed Shoemaker in honour of Dr Eugene M. Shoemaker (1928-1997), a pioneer in impact crater studies and planetary geology, as well as the founder of the Astrogeology Branch of the US Geological Survey. Dr Shoemaker (and his wife, Carolyn) made many trips to Australia to scout out impact craters. He died tragically in a head-on car collision during one of those expeditions.

Astronaut photograph provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations experiment and Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, Johnson Space Centre. Text adapted from information issued by William L. Stefanov, Jacobs/ESCG at NASA-JSC.

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