If you’ve ever wondered what a meteor striking a planet sounds like, a Nasa lander has captured the sounds of four meteoroids striking Mars.
For the first time ever, scientists have found that the InSight lander had detected seismic and acoustic waves from a series of impacts on Mars in 2020 and 2021.
A satellite orbiting the red planet confirmed the impact location, as far as 289 km from the lander.
The first confirmed meteoroid exploded into at least three pieces, each leaving its own crater.
Thanks to Nasa’s Martian lander, we now have a 11-second audio snippet of this strike which includes three ‘bloops’, as Nasa calls them, sounding like metal flapping loudly in the wind here on Earth.
‘After three years of InSight waiting to detect an impact, those craters looked beautiful,’ said Ingrid Daubar of Brown University, a co-author of the research paper in the journal Nature Geoscience.
The InSight team expected to pick up numerous meteoroid strikes, given Mars’s proximity to the asteroid belt and the planet’s thin atmosphere, which tends to keep entering space rocks from burning up.
The lander’s French-built seismometer may have missed impacts because of interfering noise from the Martian wind or seasonal changes in the atmosphere, but now scientists know what to look for, according to Nasa, which is likely to result in a surge of detections.
‘Impacts are the clocks of the solar system,’ French lead author Raphael Garcia said in a statement from the Higher Institute of Aeronautics and Space in Toulouse.
‘We need to know the impact rate today to estimate the age of different surfaces,’
The marsquakes generated by the meteoroid impacts registered no more than magnitude 2. The largest measured magnitude 5 earlier this year.
Launched in 2018, InSight has already detected more than 1,300 marsquakes.