NASA records the noise of an asteroid colliding with Mars for the first time; listen up

The InSight Mars Lander probe, on Mars since 2018, managed to capture the sound of an asteroid as it hit the surface of the red planet. The event took place on September 5, 2021, but the information was only released by NASA this week.

According to NASA, it was the first time that a device has recorded meteoroid impacts on another planet.

The lander was also able to detect seismic waves caused by the impact of space rocks against the ground on three other occasions: on May 27, 2020; February 18, 2021; and August 31, 2021.

In the audio released by the American space agency, it is possible to hear the meteoroid entering the atmosphere and then exploding into three pieces until it hits the ground, becoming known as meteorites.

NASA explains that the noise that follows after the explosion, like a “bloop”, is caused by the peculiar effects of the atmosphere of Mars. This effect can also be observed in the desert regions of the Earth. Check out the audio below:

“After sunset, the atmosphere retains some heat built up during the day. Sound waves travel through this heated atmosphere at different speeds depending on their frequency. As a result, bass sounds arrive earlier than treble ones. An observer close to impact would hear a ‘bang’, while someone many kilometers away would hear the bass sounds first, creating a ‘bloop'”, explains the US space agency.

An article published by Nature Geoscience, with details of the impacts, states that the falls were recorded between 85 and 290 kilometers from the location of the InSight spacecraft, in a region of Mars called Elysium Planitia.

Camera confirms falling space rocks

To confirm that the three fragments that hit the ground on September 5, 2021 left craters, NASA sent the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to fly over the area and confirm the location.

Then the orbiter used its black and white camera to reveal three dark spots on the surface. After locating these spots, the orbiter team used the High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera to get a color close-up of the craters.

The images were also released by NASA. The blue areas around the craters are where dust was disturbed by the impact explosion. Martian dust is shiny and red, so removing it makes the surface appear relatively dark and blue.

Why is this record important?

The seismic data recorded by the InSight spacecraft may offer many clues that will help scientists study aspects of the crust, mantle and core of Mars.

With this information in hand, researchers can understand other questions, such as the periodicity of events such as earthquakes and tectonic plate movements, as well as the frequency with which asteroids reach the red planet, which is located near the system’s main meteoroid belt. solar.

For now, it is known that the atmosphere of Mars is only 1% of the thickness of Earth’s atmosphere, allowing many more asteroids to pass and impact the surface of the red planet, even without disintegrating.

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