NASA Makes Mars Breakthrough As Meteor ‘Marsquakes’ Reveal Craters On Planet’s Surface | Science | New

Scientists have discovered new craters on the surface of Mars by tracing the shock waves triggered by meteorites that slam into the planet’s surface. This is the first time a new process has been used to assess the impacts of space rocks on the surface of the Red Planet, which could reveal new information such as the age of the planet’s surface.

Using the new technique, the shock waves created could reveal the exact position and depth of craters on the surface of Mars. Scientists were able to find the craters by tracing the flying pieces of space rock that crashed into another planet’s surface using data taken from NASA’s InSight lander, which also records sound from the impact of the meteroirte, which would look like a “bloop”. “.

This probe provided insight into seismic activity on Mars between May 2020 and September 2021, by analyzing data from small space rocks and larger meteoroids that crashed into Mars. The seismic data recorded by the probe included four impact events examined in detail by the scientists.

The study published in Nature Geoscience mapped the Red Planet’s surface, which also yielded crucial insights into understanding the planet’s crust. The probe first landed in the Elysium Planitia region of Mars in November 2018 to study the planet’s crust and impact activity.

Raphael Garcia, a planetary seismologist at the Higher Institute of Aeronautics and Space at the University of Toulouse, said: “This is the first time we have felt and heard an impact on another planet.”

But he warned: “If people want to know if a surface is older or younger, knowing the impact rate is key, but we’re not there yet.”

It is believed that InSight could detect between one and 100 impacts every five Earth years using its sensitive seismometer. Data from this device may also show the impact as it occurred.

On Earth, we understand these incoming meteoroids to be shooting stars or meteors. They can sometimes explode when they reach the thicker atmosphere closer to the ground, creating an amazing airburst.

But it’s only when a piece of space rock survives its meteoric trajectory through the air and falls to the ground that it can be classified as a meteorite. By determining the speed at which acoustic and seismic waves traveled through Mars’ air and its surface, the research team was able to determine how far apart the various meteoroids that exploded on the planet’s surface were from the surface. InSight probe.

From there, they could also determine the direction the space rocks were coming from. This is useful because the loud sound generated by space rock impact can send acoustic waves zooming across the surface in all directions.

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Although this may deform the ground in imperceptible ways, Insight’s data was so precise that the researchers were able to determine the direction of the impact thanks to a slight tilt of the probe’s seismometer as the impact wave passed. .

Data analysis also allowed scientists to predict how hard incoming meteoroids hit the planet’s surface. Impacts would have ranged between 53 and 180 miles (85 and 290 kilometers) from InSight’s location.

The first meteoroid entered Mars’ atmosphere on September 5, 2021 and exploded into at least three bursts that each left a crater. Ingrid Daubar of Brown University, co-author of the paper published on Monday, said: “After three years of waiting for InSight to detect an impact, these craters were magnificent.”

Data analysis also revealed that three other impacts had occurred, on May 27, 2020, February 18, 2021 and August 31, 2021.

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But scientists remain baffled by the small amount of meteoroid impacts detected on Mars so far, given that the planet sits right next to the solar system’s main asteroid belt. This means that a large number of space rocks are thrown onto the surface of the red planet.

However, the planet’s atmosphere is only 1% as thick as Earth’s, which means more meteoroids pass through it without disintegrating. And while InSight’s seismometer detected more than 1,300 “marsquakes”, September 5, 2021 was the first time a meteorite impact was identified as the cause of these seismic waves.

The four meteoroid impacts confirmed so far would have triggered small earthquakes with a magnitude not exceeding 2.0 on the Richter scale. Professor Garcia said: “Impacts are the clocks of the solar system. We need to know the impact rate today to estimate the age of the different surfaces.

And by counting impact craters, scientists are able to estimate the age of a planet’s surface.

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