InSight lander detects space rocks crashing into Mars

InSight lander detects space rocks crashing into Mars
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NASA’s InSight Lander has “heard” and detected the vibrations of four space rocks that have crashed into Mars over the past two years.

This is the first time a mission has been taken Both seismic and acoustic waves from an impact on Mars, and InSight’s first detection of impacts since landing on the red planet in 2018.

Fortunately, InSight was not in the path of these meteoroids, which were known as space rocks before they hit the ground. The impacts ranged from 53 to 180 miles (85 to 290 kilometers) from the stationary lander’s position on Elysium Planitia, a flat plain just north of the Martian equator.

A meteoroid impact on Mars in September 2021 created these craters.  This image, taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, enhances displaced dust and soil in blue to make details more visible.

On September 5, 2021, a meteoroid fell into the atmosphere of Mars and then broke into at least three pieces, each of which left a crater on the surface of the red planet.

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter then flew over the site to confirm where the meteoroid landed and spotted three dark areas. The orbiter’s color imager, the High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera, captured detailed close-ups of the craters.

The researchers shared their findings new craters in a study published Monday in the journal Natural Geology.

“After three years of waiting for InSight to detect an impact, these craters looked great,” said study co-author Ingrid Daubar, associate professor of Earth, environmental and planetary sciences at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.

Data from InSight revealed three other similar impacts, one on May 27, 2020, and two additional ones on February 18 and August 31, 2021.

The agency released a recording of the meteorite impact on Mars on Monday. As the space rock enters the atmosphere, breaks up and hits the surface, listen for a bloop that sounds three times more sci-fi during the clip.

Scientists have actually questioned why more impacts haven’t been detected on Mars, since the planet is located near our solar system’s main asteroid belt, where many space rocks hit the Martian surface. The Martian atmosphere is only 1% as thick as Earth’s, meaning that most meteoroids pass through it without breaking up.

During its time on Mars, using the InSight seismometer, it detected more than 1,300 earthquakes that occur when the Martian subsurface cracks due to pressure and heat. The sensitive instrument can detect seismic waves thousands of miles away from InSight’s location — but the September 2021 event is the first time scientists have used one. waves to confirm the effect.

Martian wind noise or seasonal changes in the atmosphere may mask additional effects. Once the researchers understand what the impact’s seismic signature looks like, they expect to find out more when they examine InSight’s data from the past four years.

Seismic waves help researchers open the lock More information about the interior of Mars because they change as they pass through different material.

Meteoroid impacts produce earthquakes of magnitude 2.0 or less. The largest earthquake ever detected by InSight was one A magnitude 5 event in May.

Impact craters help scientists understand the age of the planet’s surface. Researchers can also determine how many craters formed early in the solar system’s turbulent history.

“The effects are solar system clocks,” said lead author Raphael Garcia, an academic researcher at the Institut Supérieur de l’Aéronautique et de l’Espace in Toulouse, France. “We need to know the extent of the impact today to estimate the age of the various surfaces.”

Examining InSight’s data could provide researchers with a way to analyze the trajectory and size of the shock wave generated when a meteoroid enters the atmosphere, as well as when it hits the ground.

“We’re learning more about the impact process itself,” Garcia said. “We can now tune craters of different sizes to specific seismic and acoustic waves.”

InSight’s mission is coming to an end dust accumulates on the solar panels and reduces their power. Eventually, the spacecraft will shut down, but the team isn’t sure when that will happen.

The latest readings suggested it could close between this coming October and January 2023.

Until then, the spacecraft has a chance to add to its research portfolio and amazing collection of discoveries on Mars.

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