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Shockwaves from Meteoroid Impact Detected by NASA’s InSight Lander

NASA’s aging InSight mission picked up the shockwaves from an icy meteoroid strike

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Aditya Saikrishna
Aditya Saikrishna
I am 21 years old and an avid Motorsports enthusiast.

UNITED STATES: On the 24th of December 2021, NASA’s InSight mission detected seismic waves caused by a meteoroid impact. The InSight mission landed on Martian soil back in November 2018.

In photos taken by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), fresh, large impact craters can be seen.

Ingrid Daubar, a planetary scientist at Brown University, said during a news conference on Thursday that the crater was by far “the biggest new crater” that the team had discovered.

The photos taken by the orbiter provided clues to the source of the seismic waves picked up by InSight.

Dauber felt that the formation of the crater was a “once in a generation” event. He added that it was a scientific gift that it happened while InSight was recording seismic data on the Martian surface.

The meteoroid strike impact caused a magnitude 4 quake and produced a crater that was 130 metres wide. As the InSight scientists were analysing the Christmas Eve impact, the scientists with NASA’s MRO mission provided the breakthrough.

Liliya Posiolova, Orbital Science operations lead for MRO at Malin Space Science Systems in California, said in the news conference that the team was excited when they first saw the images from the orbiter.

Posiolova and her colleagues discovered the fresh crater in data collected by the MRO’s Context Camera. The crater, along with the rays of debris from the impact, was spread over a circular region over 30 kilometres wide. The team had to take two more images to capture the perturbance area.

From the calculations of the scientists, the asteroid that smashed into Mars was somewhere between 5 and 12 metres wide. An asteroid of that size would have burned up in the Earth’s atmosphere.

However, it crashed into the surface of Mars as the Red Planet’s thin atmosphere can’t do much to protect the surface.

Also Read: NASA Releases Audio of the ‘Pillars of Creation’

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