Space rock slams into Mars and explodes.


Just over a year ago, a space rock hurtled through the Martian atmosphere, broke apart, and slammed into the red desert.

NASA just revealed footage of the new impact craters on Sept. 19, as well as three other earlier impacts. The collisions were significant enough for the space agency’s geologic probe, InSight, to detect “marsquakes” from up to 180 miles away.

“After three years of InSight waiting to detect an impact, those craters looked beautiful,” Ingrid Daubar, a planetary scientist at Brown University, said in a NASA statement.

The image atop this story shows the result of a meteoroid — a space rock that has yet to impact the surface — that exploded in the Martian atmosphere into at least three “shards,” ultimately leaving three fresh craters in the ground, NASA explained. The InSight lander, equipped with a sensitive seismometer, detected the explosion and impacts. Although InSight is running out of power, it certainly continues to make meaningful extraterrestrial observations.

After InSight detected the booms, NASA sent its Martian satellite, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, to scour the region for darkened patches on the desert floor. Dark areas are telltale evidence of newly disturbed soil and dust. (The unnatural blue hues are added to make impact details more apparent.)

A few other impact craters detected by InSight and imaged by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in 2020 and 2021 are shown below:


Relatively fresh impact craters on Mars created in 2020 and 2021. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / University Of Arizona

Space is a story of collisions. They happen regularly in our solar system. Often wayward asteroids make chance impacts with other objects orbiting the sun.

Our solar system isn’t nearly as chaotic as it was billion of years ago, so impacts are relatively fewer. But the heavily-cratered moon, whose surface isn’t recycled like Earth’s, leaves poignant evidence of cosmic impacts in our solar system neighborhood.

Mashable