NASA shared the sound of a meteor falling to Mars on Monday, with photos of the impact craters.
The dwindling InSight lander has captured the acoustic and seismic sounds of four meteor impacts.
Hear the startling “bloop” of a space rock falling through the Martian atmosphere and crashing down.
No one had ever heard the sound of a meteor collapsing on another planet until NASA’s InSight lander recorded the seismic waves of a space rock hitting Mars.
On September 5, 2021, a rock hurtling through space crossed the path of the red planet. The meteor screamed at the dusty orange surface of the planet, sending a shock wave through the atmosphere.
While it may have been burned by the friction and heat of plowing through Earth’s atmosphere, the meteor survived the thin air of Mars. It shattered into at least three pieces, which plunged into the planet’s surface, forming craters.
The InSight lander’s seismometer, designed to measure Marsquakes and dust devils, was sensitive enough to detect the acoustic impact of the shock wave hitting the ground, as well as the seismic waves from the meteor’s crash landing. NASA shared audio of the entire event Monday. Listen below.
“Oddly enough, it’s more of a ‘bloop’ than a ‘bam!'” science writer Corey Powell said on Twitter.
NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, a satellite orbiting the planet, later captured images of the meteor’s impact craters.
“After three years of waiting InSight to detect an impact, those craters looked beautiful,” Ingrid Daubar, a Mars impact specialist at Brown University, said in a NASA news release.
Since then, scientists have searched previous InSight data and confirmed three other meteor impacts that occurred over the course of 2020 and 2021, ranging from 53 to 180 miles away from the lander. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter later also imaged the impact craters of those meteors.
The details of the four Mars meteor impacts were published Monday in an article in Nature Geosciences.
Because the impacts were so faint that scientists initially overlooked them, the study authors suspect other meteor impacts may have been hidden in the seismometer data over the past four years, lost in the seismic sound of a gust of wind, the press release said.
InSight is nearing the end of its life
These are the first meteor impacts InSight has detected since it landed on Mars in 2018. The lander’s powerful seismometer has detected more than 1,300 Marsquakes, showing that the planet has a molten core and a thin, fragmented crust like that of the moon. . InSight has also picked up the seismic rumble of dust devils and collected weather data.
However, the robot is running out of time. The landing site on the vast field of Elysium Planitia turned out to be surprisingly not windy. NASA usually relies on gusts of wind to blow the penetrating Martian dust off its robot’s solar panels. InSight has seen very few such cleaning events.
The buildup of dust has slowly reduced the lander’s ability to generate power. In 2018, the battery charge was enough to run an electric oven for an hour and 40 minutes. Today, such an oven can only run for 10 minutes, mission manager Kathya Zamora Garcia said at a press conference in May.
According to the press release, on Monday, NASA engineers believe the lander could run out of power and shut down completely sometime between October 2022 and January 2023.
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