Mars shaken by meteorite impact, which gave a pleasant surprise

(ORDO NEWS) — A meteor crashed into Mars on Christmas Eve 2021 and shook the planet so hard that NASA’s InSight lander recorded the rumble.

Scientists didn’t know where the quake came from until NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter discovered it. a spacecraft orbiting the red planet took pictures of the new impact crater.

NASA announced the discovery on Thursday.

“Immediately it became clear that this is the largest new crater we have ever seen.” “We’ve never seen one,” Ingrid Daubar, head of collision research at InSight, told a press briefing.

“It’s about 500 feet wide, or about two city blocks across. And although meteorites constantly fall on the planet. , this crater is more than 10 times larger than the typical new craters we see on Mars.”

There was an eloquent glow around the new crater: blocks of water ice the size of a boulder, raised from below the surface during the explosion.

Mars shaken by meteorite impact which gave a pleasant surprise 1
Before and after images of the impact site in the Amazon Plain on Mars

This is the closest place to the Martian equator where NASA has ever found water. So far, scientists have only seen water ice accumulating near the poles.

The discovery holds promise for NASA’s plan to send astronauts to Mars.

To avoid overly hostile weather, NASA would have preferred to land astronauts closer to the equator.

But wherever these researchers go, they will need to produce water both for basic human needs and for breaking it down into hydrogen and oxygen to provide rocket fuel for the journey home.

Martian quakes triggered by meteorite impact could help unravel centuries-old mystery

Among more than 1,300 earthquakes detected by InSight, scientists have identified another earthquake that came from a meteorite impact.

Two meteors were generating seismic waves at surface level – the first time they’ve been discovered on another planet.

Prior to these meteor impacts, all earthquakes detected by InSight occurred deep underground, producing what seismologists call “body waves.” than surface waves.

“It’s really exciting,” said Doen Kim, a geophysicist at ETH Zurich who analyzed data from these quakes, adding, “It was one of the goals of the mission to detect and define surface waves.”

Mars shaken by meteorite impact which gave a pleasant surprise 2
The impact crater is about 490 feet (150 meters) wide

The findings from these meteorites, published in Science on Thursday, could help solve a centuries-old mystery of Mars’ geography.

All along, while astronomers have been studying Mars, they have wondered why its northern and southern hemispheres look so different. The north is flat lowlands and the south is full of mountains.

According to Kim, there are two main theories for this mapping. First, North and South are made up of two different types of rocks. Second, the planet’s crust is simply thicker in the south.

Whatever the answer, it will be another piece of the complex puzzle of how Mars formed, which is a model for how other rocky planets around it may have formed and other stars.

Surface waves from meteor impacts have allowed scientists to peer into the nearby Martian crust. It’s a small sample of the Earth’s crust, so it can’t solve the North-South puzzle on its own, but it fits the second theory: the crust is thicker in the south and thinner in the north.

“This is just one or a small piece of evidence to start unraveling the mystery,” said Kim.

InSight is dying

The Insight lander completes its mission. NASA stated that due to the power level decrease and it will likely run out of energy in the next six weeks.

“Over the past four years, the lander has been collecting a lot of dust on its solar panels,” Bruce Barnerdt, principal investigator for the Insight mission, said at a press briefing on Thursday.

“We’re kind of cutting back on spacecraft operations as much of the science data as possible.”

The recent dust storm could have been the final nail in the coffin, but it bypassed InSight’s location.

However, it filled the Martian atmosphere with dust particles, r the amount of sunlight reaching the earth.

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