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After years in the making, NASA has captured audio of space rocks slamming into the surface of Mars.
Between 2020 and 2021, the agency’s InSight Lander detected seismic waves resulting from multiple impacts on the red planet since 2018. All the crashes appeared to be near the planet’s Elysium Planitia plain, ranging from 53 to 180 miles away from each other.
The discovery allowed NASA to release recorded seismic and acoustic activity on Earth’s neighbor for the first time. The meteoroids entered Mars’ atmosphere in September 2021 where it exploded into three-piece that left craters in their wake.
NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter confirmed the location of the impacts and took photographic evidence with a black-and-white context camera, according to the agency. A High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera was used to provide a closer and in-color look at the craters left behind.
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“After three years of InSight waiting to detect an impact, those craters looked beautiful,” said Ingrid Daubar of Brown University in a statement.
Moreover, a clip of the impact was released to the public on Monday. Three different “bloop” sounds can be heard as the meteoroids or space rocks entered the planet’s atmosphere. Researchers were able to confirm three separate dates of the impacts: May 27, 2020; February 18, 2021; and August 31, 2021.
Mars is right next to the asteroid belt which scientists suspect may be where the asteroids originated. The planet’s atmosphere is just one percent thicker than Earth’s, meaning more space rocks can easily pass through it intact.
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Additional years of data may allow InSight to find more instances of impacts on Mars and capture their seismic activity. Other impacts may not have been discovered due to wind or planetary weather obscuring the noise.
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