NASA’s InSight lander has detected a meteor impacting the surface of Mars. This is the first time the space agency has captured both seismic and acoustic waves from a Mars collision. Researchers shared the findings of the new craters in a study published in Natural Geosciences. InSight landed on the Red Planet in 2018 and it’s experienced waves for the first time since.
According to the study, the meteorite fell 53 to 180 miles (85 to 290 km) from InSight’s location on Mars’ Elysium Planitia. It hit the Martian atmosphere on September 5, 2021 and exploded into three pieces, each of which left a crater on the Red Planet’s surface.
The researchers used observations from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in space to confirm the crater’s location. Planetary geophysicist Bruce Banerdt of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, principal investigator of the InSight mission, told Reuters news agency: “These seismic measurements provide us with a complete tool. completely new to investigate Mars or any other planet we could land with a seismometer.
NASA also released an audio recording of the asteroid’s impact on Mars on Monday. In the audio, you hear three “blobs” that represent distinct moments of impact: the meteor entered the Martian atmosphere, exploded into pieces, and fell to the ground. The strange sound caused by atmospheric effects is also observed in Earth’s deserts, where lower-pitched sounds precede high-pitched sounds.
“We were able to connect a known type of source, location and size to what a seismic signal looks like,” said Ingrid Daubar, co-author of the study, a Brown University planetary scientist. . We can apply this information to better understand InSight’s entire seismic catalog of events and use the results on other planets and moons.”
The researchers believe that seismic signatures of such impacts have now been detected, which they expect to find more in InSight’s data from 2018, according to Reuters.
The three-legged InSight – as its name stands for Interior Exploration Using Seismic Investigation, Measurement and Thermal Transport – landed in 2018 on a large and relatively flat plain just now. north of the Martian equator is called Elysium Planitia.
“The moon is also a target for future asteroid impact detection,” said planetary scientist and study lead author Raphael Garcia of the University of Toulouse’s ISAE-SUPAERO institute for aeronautics and spaceflight. .
“And maybe the same sensors will do that, because InSight’s backup sensors are now being incorporated into the Farside Seismic Suite for a moon flight in 2025,” Garcia added. Garcia added, referring to an instrument that would be placed near the moon’s south pole on the side of the moon permanently facing away from Earth.
Mars is twice as likely as Earth when its atmosphere is hit by a meteorite – as it’s called for a space rock before it hits the surface. However, Earth has a much thicker atmosphere to protect the planet.
“So meteors often break apart and disintegrate in Earth’s atmosphere, forming fireballs that rarely reach the surface to form craters. Compared to Mars, hundreds of impact craters are in the air. forms somewhere on the planet’s surface every year,” Daubar said.
Mars’ atmosphere is only about 1% as thick as Earth’s. The asteroid belt, an abundant source of space rock, lies between Mars and Jupiter.
The science goals set for InSight ahead of the mission are to investigate Mars’ internal structure and processes, as well as study seismic activity and meteorite impacts.
InSight’s seismometer determines that Mars is seismically active, detecting more than 1,300 mars. In research published last year, seismic waves detected by InSight helped decipher the inner structure of Mars, including the first estimates of the size of the large liquid metal core, the thickness of the layer. shell and the nature of the coating.