Research, Technology

A meteorite that fell on Mars caused a strong earthquake

In 2021 InSight landerrecorded an earthquake on Mars. Aftershocks on the Red Planet occur regularly, but this one was special - the sensors showed that it happened somewhere on the surface. Recently, the reason for this phenomenon has finally been revealed. It turned out that a year ago a large meteorite fell on Mars and caused a strong roar, which was recorded by the NASA research apparatus. According to scientists, as a result of the collision, the largest crater in the history of observations was formed - there are larger impact formations on the planet, but they arose at a time when scientists did not study Mars so carefully. But that's not all, because the fallen meteorite allowed scientists to make several important discoveries for science.

A new crater on Mars, taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

The largest crater on Mars

That there was a strong earthquake on Marscaused by a fallen meteorite, scientists learned during the study of photographs taken by the interplanetary station Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. After the collision, a 152-meter crater formed in the area near the planet's equator. NASA experts compared its size with the area of ​​two city blocks. Meteorites often fall on the surface of Mars, but this one is interesting in that it created a depression after itself, 10 times wider than usual.

It was immediately clear that this is the largest new crater we have ever seen,” announced Ingrid Daubar, Ingrid Daubar, program manager for InSight.

Interplanetary station Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

See also: Scientists have told how life on Mars could destroy the planet and die

Water at the equator of Mars

But big size is not the mainfeature of the new crater. The pictures show that something shiny is scattered around it. Scientists quickly realized that these were large blocks of water ice raised to the surface after the fall of a large meteorite. This is a very important discovery, because previously scientists have not been able to find such large deposits of water ice near the equator - usually they are found only in the region of the poles.

Large fragments of water ice are visible around the crater

Finding ice near the equator for suredelighted scientists. In 2021, they came to the conclusion that during a manned mission to Mars, astronauts are best landed on the equatorial territory. This place is considered the most comfortable because more sunlight gets there and people will not be cold. In an article on this topic, we noted that it would be good if there was a source of water - now we can say that it has been found.

Water can be mined at the equator of Mars, and this is great news

Water on Mars can be obtained by melting ice.It is useful not only for drinking, but also to keep equipment in working order. It could also be split into hydrogen and oxygen to make rocket fuel—were humans going to have to somehow get back to Earth?

Apparatus InSight

Finally, thanks to a fallen meteorite, scientistsCloser to solving another mystery of Mars. Researchers have always wondered why the northern hemisphere of the planet has a flat surface, while the southern part has many mountains. One version was that the northern and southern sides of Mars were composed of different rocks. Another version was that the surface layer of the southern hemisphere is simply thicker. During the study of the crater, scientists will be able to test at least the second version.

The Martian plain Amazonis Planitia before and after the meteorite impact

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The research apparatus InSight began work onMars in 2018. In fact, he coped with all the tasks assigned to him. Very soon it will be turned off because it lacks energy - due to sandstorms, its solar panels have become dirty and can no longer generate electricity. Recently, NASA specialists have been working with it with extreme caution in order to save charge. They were very afraid of the recent storm, but it did not affect the location of the device. But the situation did not improve because the wind raised a lot of dust into the air and the sunlight still does not reach the panels.