Red is the color of passion, the same that, perhaps not coincidentally, guides scientists who are investigating a planet famous for this shade, Mars. From this part of the Universe very particular sounds have come that could not fail to intrigue the experts. We are talking about some shock waves which allowed the discovery of brand new craters.
In addition to some footprints of considerable size, attention was paid to the space rocks that have gone to crash against the ground, causing precisely the sounds that should allow us to delve into the red planet even more accurately. The craters are nothing more than real “scars” that testify to what the meteorites in transit are capable of.
For the first time ever on Mars, the noises of impact with stray rocks were heard in a distinct way, as noted by Raphael Garcia, planetary seismologist at the Higher Institute of Aeronautics and Space of the University of Toulouse. It all started with the desire to understand if they exist on this planet craters caused by meteorites and to obtain satisfactory results we have relied on seismic waves. The latter are those recorded by the lander InSight of NASA, more precisely between 2020 and 2021. The mission just mentioned deserves a few more details.
Acoustic and seismic waves
The American space agency’s probe landed on Mars in 2018 to thoroughly investigate the impacts of meteorites, with the hope of detecting them one to 100 every five Earth years. The researchers exploited a valuable data in their possession, the speed of acoustic and seismic waves when they travel in the Martian air and in this way the sounds were easier to examine. Oddities are the order of the day on the red planet, even if in the case of the impacts everything was much clearer. What specifically emerged?
Images taken on Mars
Thanks to all the data collected, it was possible to hypothesize with a good approximation where the meteorites impacted on Mars. Further help came from the images taken by Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, another instrument supplied to NASA. The name is the one given to the multifunctional probe launched into orbit in 2005 to identify the best places to land on Mars, even with a human crew. Well, the MRO has revealed a series of black spots on the ground, in fact newly formed craters near the impact sites. One of the most interesting crashes is quite recent.
It was September 5, 2021 when a stray rock shattered on the surface of Mars, causing three strong shock waves. The impact occurred at a speed of 10 kilometers per second, with the next explosion of the meteorite at an altitude including between 13 and 16 kilometers. The next falling fragments to the ground created new craters, several meters wide and of considerable importance for the study of the planet. The discoveries related to the red planet are a constant source of surprise, now scientists want to put together the last pieces of the puzzle to get a clearer picture of the history of Mars.