Listen to Space Rocks Crash Into Mars – Recorded by NASA’s InSight Lander

Hear Meteoroid Impacts on Mars

NASA’s InSight lander has detected seismic waves from four space rocks that crashed on Mars. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

NASA’s InSight “Hears” Its First Meteoroid Impacts on Mars

SEIS, the Mars lander’s seismometer, has picked up vibrations from four separate impacts in the past two years.

NASA’s InSight lander has detected seismic waves from four space rocks that crashed on Mars in 2020 and 2021. These represent the first impacts detected by the spacecraft’s seismometer since InSight touched down on the Red Planet in 2018. In fact, it also marks the first time seismic and acoustic waves from an impact have been detected on Mars.

A new scientific paper details the impacts, which ranged between 53 and 180 miles (85 and 290 kilometers) from InSight’s location, a region of Mars called Elysium Planitia. It was published on September 19 in the journal Nature Geoscience.

Meteoroid Impact Craters on Mars

InSight Detects an Impact for the First Time: These craters were formed by a Sept. 5, 2021, meteoroid impact on Mars, the first to be detected by NASA’s InSight. Taken by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, this enhanced-color image highlights the dust and soil disturbed by the impact in blue in order to make details more visible to the human eye. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

A “meteoroid” is the term used for space rocks before they hit the ground. The first of the four confirmed meteoroids made the most dramatic entrance: It exploded into at least three shards that each left a crater behind after entering Mars’ atmosphere on September 5, 2021.

NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter then flew over the estimated impact site to confirm the location. The orbiter used its black-and-white Context Camera to reveal three darkened spots on the surface. After locating these spots, the orbiter’s team used the High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera, or HiRISE, to get a color close-up of the craters (the meteoroid could have left additional craters on the surface, but they would be too small to see in HiRISE’s images). See the images in the “Mars Crater Collage” below.

Learn more about the first meteoroid impact NASA’s InSight lander detected on Mars in this video. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

“After three years of InSight waiting to detect an impact, those craters looked beautiful,” said Ingrid Daubar of Brown University. She is a co-author of the paper and a specialist in Mars impacts.

After combing through earlier data, researchers confirmed three other impacts had occurred on May 27, 2020; February 18, 2021; and August 31, 2021.

Scientists are perplexed as to why they haven’t detected more meteoroid impacts on Mars. The Red Planet is located next to the solar system’s main asteroid belt, which should provide an ample supply of space rocks to scar the planet’s surface. Additionally, far more meteoroids pass through Mars’ atmosphere without disintegrating because it is just 1% as thick as Earth’s.

The sound of a meteoroid striking Mars – created from data recorded by NASA’s InSight lander – is like a “bloop” due to a peculiar atmospheric effect. In this audio clip, the sound can be heard three times: when the meteoroid enters the Martian atmosphere, explodes into pieces, and impacts the surface. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/CNES/IPGP

SEIS, InSight’s seismometer, has detected over 1,300 marsquakes. Provided by France’s space agency, the Centre National d’Études Spatiales, the instrument is so sensitive that it can detect seismic waves from thousands of miles away. However, the September 5, 2021, event marks the first time an impact was confirmed as the cause of such waves.

InSight’s team suspects that noise from wind or seasonal changes in the atmosphere may have obscured other impacts. But now that the distinctive seismic signature of an impact on Mars has been discovered, researchers expect to discover more hiding within InSight’s nearly four years of data.

Science Behind the Strikes

Seismic data offer various clues that will help scientists better understand the Red Planet. Most marsquakes are caused by subsurface rocks cracking from heat and pressure. Studying how the resulting seismic waves change as they move through different materials provides scientists a way to study Mars’ crust, mantle, and core.

The four meteoroid impacts confirmed so far produced small quakes with a magnitude of no more than 2.0. Those smaller quakes provide investigators with only a glimpse into the Martian crust, while seismic signals from larger quakes, like the magnitude 5 event that occurred in May 2022, can also reveal details about the planet’s mantle and core.

Mars Meteoroid Impact Crater Collage

Mars Crater Collage: This collage shows three other meteoroid impacts that were detected by the seismometer on NASA’s InSight lander and captured by the agency’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter using its HiRISE camera. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

However, the impacts will be critical to refining Mars’ timeline. “Impacts are the clocks of the solar system,” said the paper’s lead author, Raphael Garcia of Institut Supérieur de l’Aéronautique et de l’Espace in Toulouse, France. “We need to know the impact rate today to estimate the age of different surfaces.”

Scientists can calculate the approximate age of a planet’s surface by counting its impact craters: The more they see, the older the surface. By calibrating their statistical models based on how often they see impacts occurring now, researchers can then estimate how many more impacts happened earlier in the solar system’s history.

InSight’s data, in combination with orbital images, can be used to rebuild a meteoroid’s trajectory and the size of its shock wave. Every meteoroid creates a shock wave as it hits the atmosphere and an explosion as it hits the ground. These events send sound waves through the atmosphere. The bigger the explosion, the more this sound wave tilts the ground when it reaches InSight. The lander’s seismometer is sensitive enough to measure how much the ground tilts from such an event and in what direction.

“We’re learning more about the impact process itself,” Garcia said. “We can match different sizes of craters to specific seismic and acoustic waves now.”

NASA Mars InSight

This illustration shows NASA’s Mars InSight lander on the Martian surface. Credit: NASA

The lander still has some time to study Mars. Dust buildup on the lander’s solar panels is reducing its power and will eventually lead to the spacecraft shutting down. Predicting precisely when is difficult, but based on the latest power readings, engineers now believe the lander could shut down between October of this year and January 2023.

Reference: “Newly formed craters on Mars located using seismic and acoustic wave data from InSight” by Raphael F. Garcia, Ingrid J. Daubar, Éric Beucler, Liliya V. Posiolova, Gareth S. Collins, Philippe Lognonné, Lucie Rolland, Zongbo Xu, Natalia Wójcicka, Aymeric Spiga, Benjamin Fernando, Gunnar Speth, Léo Martire, Andrea Rajšić, Katarina Miljković, Eleanor K. Sansom, Constantinos Charalambous, Savas Ceylan, Sabrina Menina, Ludovic Margerin, Rémi Lapeyre, Tanja Neidhart, Nicholas A. Teanby, Nicholas C. Schmerr, Mickaël Bonnin, Marouchka Froment, John F. Clinton, Ozgur Karatekin, Simon C. Stähler, Nikolaj L. Dahmen, Cecilia Durán, Anna Horleston, Taichi Kawamura, Matthieu Plasman, Géraldine Zenhäusern, Domenico Giardini, Mark Panning, Mike Malin and William Bruce Banerdt, 19 September 2022, Nature Geoscience.
DOI: 10.1038/s41561-022-01014-0

More About the Mission

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), a division of Caltech in Pasadena, California, manages InSight for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. InSight is part of NASA’s Discovery Program, managed by the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Lockheed Martin Space in Denver built the InSight spacecraft, including its cruise stage and lander, and supports spacecraft operations for the mission.

A number of European partners, including France’s Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES) and the German Aerospace Center (DLR), are supporting the InSight mission. CNES provided the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS) instrument to NASA, with the principal investigator at IPGP (Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris). Significant contributions for SEIS came from IPGP; the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS) in Germany; the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich) in Switzerland; Imperial College London and Oxford University in the United Kingdom; and JPL. DLR provided the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3) instrument, with significant contributions from the Space Research Center (CBK) of the Polish Academy of Sciences and Astronika in Poland. Spain’s Centro de Astrobiología (CAB) supplied the temperature and wind sensors.

3 Comments on "Listen to Space Rocks Crash Into Mars – Recorded by NASA’s InSight Lander"

  1. Impressive! Never knew a meteorite can make such long lasting percussion music 😃 NASA is master of manipulation of images and now sound too, not mention the fake supermassive ‘black hole’ of M87 (

  2. dr mehrdad kesiri | December 4, 2023 at 4:08 am | Reply

    The sun was in the form of a cloud like a nebula thousands of billions of years ago.Most of the nuclei of atoms of different elements are 10 to 100 thousand times smaller than the atoms themselves.The core of the very old sun is so dense and compressed that the force of the sun’s gravity is unimaginable for humans and it is unbelievable that there is nothing in the core of the sun.There are no complete atoms in the core of the Sun, no electrons orbiting protons!The magnitude and age of the stars can be calculated from the distance between the stars.I calculated the magnitude and age of the sun when it was cloudy and nebula.It is directly related to the distance between the stars.This issue needs an explanation.I generally said that the distance between the stars is related to the age of the stars.We will discuss this issue in another article.The sun is in the last minutes of its life and the earth is in the last hours of the sun’s life.At this time, there was no big explosion.If all the galaxies and hundreds of billions of galaxies were packed into a black hole, an explosion might occur, but stars would never be born after the explosion, because in a supermassive black hole, no atoms would remain intact from the age of the Sun..Over trillions of years have passed.God told me through His messenger that exactly trillions of years have passed since the age of the sun.Dr. Kathiri from Tehran, I am waiting for your messages.My email is blocked.You can send a text message to my cell phone.God is a structure that humans have built over hundreds of millions of years.Earlier, when they had hundreds of thousands of years or millions of years of experience on earth, the gods had made the earth.I have seen more than forty times in the sky images of God appearing with clouds.I myself had asked the gods of the earth to make those images.With clouds, your gods might as well be ours.In this age when mankind has progressed and Sharia has replaced religion, there is no need for God to promise heaven for a good deed and hell for an ugly deed.Look for work and effort.That you are more than 30 years old and whenever you don’t have financial problems, help others yourself so that God will help you.They converted to Islam and interfered in the work of Iran’s gods, but this is a very difficult task and the great powers of the world should help the people of Iran, even the mullahs who killed people and took freedom from Iranian men.And women, those clerics.which was disguised as a religion and all the powers of the people fell into the hands of the clerics, America must overthrow the criminal regime of the Islamic Republic and establish freedom and democracy in Iran.Britain, America and France supported Khomeini in Iran.No, his grandfather sent this word, God said because there is both good and bad in grandfather, of course, Khomeini and some mullahs are really forbidden words.Khomeini’s father, Seyyed Mustafa Khomeini, used forbidden words, because he was a rebel and had people who say he had gunners, and he used to extort money from the convoys that went to Karbala, Quds and Kaaba from the Bazgan border, and he waskilled by it.Gendarmes of Reza Shah.God didn’t want Khomeini to shoot the soldiers, but he didn’t.We know that he is an extremist and has a grudge against the imperial army.He also had a grudge against Mohammad Reza Shah’s father because his father Seyyed Mustafa Khomeini was a rebelAt that time, when Reza Shah had ordered that if the rebels surrendered, we would give them an F grade, but Seyyed Mustafa Khomeini, the father of Ruh and La Khomeini, did not surrender and several people were killed and wounded in the border conflict.Seyyed Mustafa Khomeini’s arrest.Gendarmerie officers took Khomeini’s father to a field court in the same village of Lab Marz, where they arrested him and shot Khomeini’s father in front of Khomeini’s eyes.Khomeini saw the scene of his father being shot.Shahshahi became anenemy and resented Reza.The Shah was thinking of revenge and fought with the Shah and behind Reza Shah’s back he slandered the believers that his father was innocently killed by Reza Shah’s order.He did not execute them except for a bandit who was killed in ChaharmahalBakhtiari.and he had killed several people in the conflict with the caravans, maybe this was the reason why Mustafa Khomeini did not surrender, he thought that Reza Shah would not kill him if he surrendered and fought and fought with the army of Reza Khan’s government.He was killed and most likely this was the reason.The army killed Khomeini’s father.Khomeini also ordered the shooting of army chiefs.When he came to Iran, when everyone voted for the Islamic Republic, on May 12, 1958, the day afterthe vote, he took a plane from Paris, the capital of France, to the airport.Mehrabad reached Tehran and went straight to Behesht Zahra.He insulted the government in his words and said, “I make decisions for the government and I will punchthis government in the mouth and say that water and electricity should be free.Khomeini told many lies.”And he did not fulfill any of the promises he made, but in the case of the army, those who laid down their weapons and joined the people, the revolutionaries took the army leaders to prison, and then Khomeini cameto Iran.Khomeini ordered to shoot the soldiers who were in issued the prison sentence, but after a few months, the Islamic Council, which was mostly mullahs, approved Khomeini’s order.

Leave a comment

Email address is optional. If provided, your email will not be published or shared.