Mars: NASA shares sounds of meteor impacts

The lander’s seismometer Mars has detected vibrations from four different impacts in the past two years, as now announced by the POT.

insight detected seismic waves from four space rocks colliding Mars in 2020 and 2021. These aren’t just the first impacts recorded by the spacecraft’s seismometer since then insight landed on the red planet in 2018, but also marks the first time seismic and acoustic waves from an impact have been detected Mars.

The first meteorites we heard from Mars

A new paper published in Nature Geoscience on Monday describes the impact, which was between 85 and 290 kilometers from the site insighta region of Mars Called Elysium Planitia.

The first of four meteorites Confirmed, the term for space rock before hitting the ground made the most spectacular appearance: it entered the atmosphere Mars on September 5, 2021 and exploded into at least three fragments, each leaving a crater.

Then the Reconnaissance Orbiter Mars of POT scanned the estimated impact site to confirm the location. The orbiter used its black-and-white context camera to reveal three dark patches on the surface. After locating these spots, the orbiter team used the HiRISE (High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment) camera to take a color close-up of the craters (the meteoroid might have left additional craters on the surface, but they would be too small to see them). in HiRISE images).

“After three years insight As they waited to spot an impact, these craters looked beautiful,” said Ingrid Daubar of Brown University, a co-author of the paper and impact specialist Mars.

After analyzing previous data, scientists confirmed that three more impacts had occurred on May 27, 2020; February 18, 2021; and August 31, 2021.

should happen more often

Researchers have wondered why they haven’t discovered more effects of meteorites in Mars. The Red Planet borders the Solar System’s main asteroid belt, which provides abundant space rock to mark the planet’s surface. Because the atmosphere of Mars it is only 1% thicker than Earth’s, more meteoroids pass through it without dissipating.

The seismometer insight has detected more than 1,300 earthquakes. The instrument, provided by France’s space agency, the National Center for Space Studies, is so sensitive it can detect seismic waves thousands of kilometers away. But the September 5, 2021 event marks the first time an impact has been confirmed as the cause of such waves.

The team of insight he suspects that other impacts were masked by wind noise or seasonal changes in the atmosphere. But now that the striking seismic signature of an impact occurs MarsScientists hope to find more hidden data in nearly four years insight.

The seismic data offers several clues that will help researchers better understand the Red Planet. Most earthquakes are caused by underground rocks cracking from heat and pressure. Studying how the resulting seismic waves change as they travel through different materials gives scientists a way to study the Earth’s crust, mantle and core. Mars.

The four effects of meteorites confirmed previously produced small earthquakes with a magnitude of not more than 2.0. These smaller earthquakes only give scientists a glimpse of Mars’ crust, while seismic signals from larger earthquakes, such as the magnitude 5 event in May 2022, can also reveal details about Mars’ mantle and core planet.

But the implications will be key as the timeline is refined Mars. “Impacts are the clocks of the solar system,” said the study’s lead author, Raphael Garcia, of the Institut Supérieur de l’Aéronautique et de l’Espace in Toulouse, France. “Today, we need to know the impact rate to estimate the age of various surfaces.”

Scientists can estimate the age of a planet’s surface by counting its impact craters: the more you see, the older the surface. By calibrating their statistical models based on how often they see impacts now, scientists can estimate how many more impacts occurred earlier in the solar system’s history.

The data from Insight, In combination with orbital imagery, they can be used to reconstruct a meteorite’s trajectory and the size of its shock wave. Each meteoroid creates a shockwave when it hits the atmosphere and an explosion when it hits the ground. These events send sound waves through the atmosphere. The bigger the explosion, the more this sound wave tilts the ground when it reaches it Insight. The lander’s seismometer is sensitive enough to measure how much and in which direction the ground tilts during such an event.

“We’re learning more about the impact process itself,” Garcia said. “Now we can assign different crater sizes to specific seismic and acoustic waves.”

The lander still has time to learn Mars. Dust buildup on the lander’s solar panels will reduce their performance and will eventually cause the spacecraft to shut down. It’s difficult to predict the exact timing, but based on the latest performance readings, engineers now believe the lander could be shut down between October this year and January. (With information from Europe Press)

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