This story is part ofour series exploring the red planet.
What does it sound like when a space rock hits the surface of Mars? If you’re NASA’s InSight lander, the answer is “bloop.” The lander’s Earthquake Hunting Seismometer detected a series of meteoroids that impacted Mars in 2020 and 2021. Talk about good vibes.
The impacts and findings of InSight are the subject of a paper published in the journal Nature Geoscience on Monday. “Not only do they represent the first shocks detected by the spacecraft’s seismometer since InSight touched down on the red planet in 2018, but they also mark the first time that seismic and acoustic shock waves have been detected on Mars,” said a statement from NASA. .
The first (and most dramatic) detection noticed by scientists was on September 5, 2021. InSight picked up seismic waves from a rock that broke into at least three sections, each of which left a crater-shaped mark. NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) inspected the impact site and spotted the craters, confirming the source of the waves “heard” by the lander’s seismometer.
“After three years of InSight waiting to detect an impact, these craters looked beautiful,” said planetary scientist and study co-author Ingrid Daubar.
NASA-JPL shared copious video of what InSight heard in September 2021, tracking the moments when the metroid entered the atmosphere, exploded into pieces and hit the ground. “This meteor impact sounds like a ‘bloop’ because of a special atmospheric effect that is heard when the bass sounds come before the high sounds,” JPL said.
A look back at the InSight data showed three more meteor impact detections. Mars has a reputation for being littered with space rocks, so scientists wondered why InSight only spotted a handful. “The InSight team suspects that other impacts may have been masked by wind noise or seasonal changes in the atmosphere,” NASA said. The search for impact detectors is not over. Researchers will continue to dig into the lander’s data for more.
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InSight’s insights into impacts are valuable for sorting out the history of the Martian surface. “The impacts are the clocks of the solar system,” said study lead author Rafael Garcia. “We need to know the extent of the impact today to estimate the age of the various surfaces.”
on its mission. The lander’s solar panels are covered in dust and power is declining. Still hearing about Marsquakes but expected to stop before January 2023. It was an unforgettable adventure giving scientists and, as in the case of meteorite impacts, also its surface activities.