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Meteorite shock waves help scientists find new craters on Mars.Mars

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Researchers have pinpointed the location of a new crater on Mars using the shock waves produced when chunks of space rock tear through the sky and crash into the ground.

The new scar on the planet’s surface is the first impact crater ever tracked from a violent meteorite bang and impact bombing another planet. The discovery will help scientists get a better sense of how often Mars is being battered by rocky remnants of the solar system, and better understand the deep internal structure of our planetary neighbors.

Professor Rafael Garcia, a planetary seismologist at the Institute for Advanced Aerospace Studies at the University of Toulouse, said:

To see if they can spot craters created by incoming meteoroids on Mars, researchers will look at craters recorded by NASA’s InSight lander between May 2020 and September 2021. I checked seismic waves. The probe landed on a barren expanse of Elysium Planitia in November 2018 on a survey mission. Planetary structure, crust, impact activity.

Scientists expected InSight to detect between 1 and 100 impacts every five Earth years using highly sensitive seismometers placed on the surface of Mars. The seismic data recorded by the probe included four of his impact events that researchers investigated in detail.

Knowing how fast acoustic and seismic waves travel through the Martian air and rocks, the team estimated the distance from Insight when various meteorites hit the surface. They then set their course.

A loud sound on impact sends sound waves that zip around the surface in all directions. These distort the ground slightly, but Insight’s data was so sensitive that the team found the direction of the impact from the slight tilt of the seismometer as the sound waves swept.

This analysis allowed scientists to roughly predict where the incoming meteor hit the surface. To confirm signs of the new crater, they turned to images taken by NASA’s Mars His Reconnaissance His orbiter. Before-and-after photos from the spacecraft revealed a new dark patch on the ground – a newly formed crater near the expected impact site.

A meteorite reached Mars on September 5, 2021, releasing three violent shock waves. The first was when it slammed into the Martian atmosphere at about 10 kilometers per second, sending shockwaves along its orbit. The space rock then exploded at an altitude of 13-16 km, producing multiple fragments. These then crashed into the ground, creating clusters of fresh craters several meters wide.

This data is invaluable to planetary scientists studying the structure of Mars’ crust, as it can pinpoint the source of seismic waves to craters. But impact craters are also used as cosmic clocks, with older surfaces of planets and moons dotted with more craters than new ones.

“Knowing the collision rate is important if you want to know if a surface is old or new, but we’re not there yet,” Garcia said. Details are published in Nature Geoscience.