Scientists discover asteroid strikes on Mars are 10 times higher than expected

Researchers have gathered seismic data on Mars and found the Red Planet is smacked by hundreds of basketball-sized meteors every year.

1 minute & 35 seconds read time

Two new research papers used seismic shocks on Mars as a way of detecting asteroid impacts, and the results indicate Mars gets smacked 10 times more than previous estimates.

Scientists discover asteroid strikes on Mars are 10 times higher than expected 65156

In one of the studies, researchers looked at some seismic data acquired by NASA's InSight Lander, which is currently out of commission, and found two massive asteroid impacts. These events occurred 97 days apart and were so large they created a football-sized field crate. Why is this important? Researchers believed an impact of this size would happen at a frequency of once or twice in a lifetime, but looking at the seismic data, it appears meteors make it to Mars' surface much more frequently than previously estimated.

The studies suggest that meteor impact rates across Mars are between two and ten times higher than previous estimates, and that estimates depend on the size of the meteor. Notably, InSight recorded seismic data for four years, from 2018 to 2022, and compared that data with new craters discovered on the surface of Mars by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). The teams then connected the new craters to the seismic data, which enabled them to estimate the size of the asteroid that caused the crater.

Scientists discover asteroid strikes on Mars are 10 times higher than expected 978

"This size impact, we would expect to happen maybe once every couple of decades, maybe even once in a lifetime, but here we have two of them that are just over 90 days apart," Ingrid Dauber of Brown University, who led one of the studies, said in a statement

"By using seismic data to better understand how often meteorites hit Mars and how these impacts change its surface, we can start piecing together a timeline of the Red Planet's geological history and evolution. You could think of it as a sort of 'cosmic clock' to help us date Martian surfaces and, maybe further down the line, other planets in the solar system," said Natalia Wojcicka of Imperial College London

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Jak joined the TweakTown team in 2017 and has since reviewed 100s of new tech products and kept us informed daily on the latest science, space, and artificial intelligence news. Jak's love for science, space, and technology, and, more specifically, PC gaming, began at 10 years old. It was the day his dad showed him how to play Age of Empires on an old Compaq PC. Ever since that day, Jak fell in love with games and the progression of the technology industry in all its forms. Instead of typical FPS, Jak holds a very special spot in his heart for RTS games.

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