NASA captures the sound of a meteorite falling on Mars

With its many rovers present on the ground of the red planet, NASA has a quantity of information on our neighbor, to the point that we know its surface better than certain regions of the Earth. But in addition to images and numerical data, researchers have been missing important information for decades to get a better idea of ​​life on the red planet.

Sound has never been present on Mars, at least we had never heard it before. For a few months NASA has been trying to fix this oddity and the latest rovers are equipped with microphones. If Persevrance had allowed, shortly after its landing to hear the Martian wind whistling, we have new recordings to listen to.

In an article published Monday in the journal Nature Geoscience, NASA scientists explain that they used the Mars Insight probe to capture the ground of a meteorite falling on the ground of the red planet. In September 2021, an asteroid entered the thin atmosphere of Mars. It then split into three and the sound of the impacts was measured by Insight’s seismometer.

A historic recording for NASA

This is the very first time that we have heard the sound emitted by a meteorite impact on a planet other than ours. With this unprecedented data NASA did not really know what to expect but according to science writer Corey Powell things should have been close to what we know on Earth.

But on Mars, everything is still very different. Where the sound of such an impact would have produced a large “bam” on our planet, the sound on Mars is closer to a “bloop” as if the meteorite had fallen into a very soft surface and been absorbed. Present in orbit around the red planet, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter probe has nevertheless taken pictures of the regions affected by these meteorites and the impact is far from minimal.

Searching for craters and tracking meteorites on Mars can teach you a lot about the planet. “Impacts are the clocks of the solar system,” explains Raphael Garcia, lead author of the study. “We need to know the impact rate today to estimate the age of the different surfaces,” he explains in his article.

Meteorites, space clocks

Measuring meteorite impacts in real time, as the Insight probe has just done, gives an idea of ​​the periodicity of meteorite falls on Mars. By knowing this variable it is possible to date certain parts of the Martian soil without having to take samples on site.

Knowing the age of a soil is extremely important for NASA, which can thus compare several eras on the planet. In Jezero Crater, where Perseverance is located, the ground is estimated to be millions of years old, other places on Mars could be much younger.


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