NASA’s InSight lander has given space enthusiasts and astronomers another reason to cheer. This time, the lander has captured the sound of a meteoroid crashing into Mars’ surface. This also marks the first time seismic signals from a meteoroid impact were recorded on another world.
The InSight touched down on the Red Planet in 2018 to study “marsquakes,” seismic activity occurring beneath the planet’s surface. The lander’s highly sensitive detection tool also captured a meteoroid crashing into the Red Planet’s surface last year. NASA has shared the audio for space fanatics to check out.
Getting A Detailed Look At Marsquakes
As per a new paper published in the journal Nature Geoscience, the impact of the meteoroid has been recorded. The event took place on September 5, 2021. There were three different strikes recorded, as the meteoroid burst into three parts when it hit the planet’s surface.
The data shows that the space rock hit the martian land around 53 to 180 kilometers away from the lander’s position. NASA’s JPL that’s overseeing InSight’s mission, said the audio of a strike sounded like a “bloop” because of “a peculiar atmospheric effect heard when bass sounds arrive before high-pitched sounds.”
The team explains, “After sunset, the atmosphere retains some heat accumulated during the day. Sound waves travel through this heated atmosphere at different speeds, depending on their frequency. As a result, lower-pitched sounds arrive before high-pitched sounds. An observer close to the impact would hear a ‘bang,’ while someone many miles away would hear the bass sounds first, creating a ‘bloop.’”
InSight To Soon Call It A Day
After calculating the exact impact location, the space agency leveraged the High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera (HiRISE) on its Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to observe the craters. This instrument is capable of seeing wavelengths that the human eye cannot.
“The areas that appear blue around the craters are where dust has been removed or disturbed by the blast of the impact,” NASA explained. “Martian dust is bright and red, so removing it makes the surface appear relatively dark and blue.”
Unfortunately, InSight will soon be calling it quits, as dust on its solar panels is restricting it from collecting enough energy to work efficiently. Still, the lander has provided a lot of data from the mission, which will help its team learn more about the marsquakes.
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