Could meteorite strikes cause earthquakes on Mars?

Could meteorite strikes cause earthquakes on Mars?


Researchers have made the first estimate of global meteorite impacts on Mars using seismic data. Their findings suggest that 280 to 360 meteorites fall to the planet each year, creating impact craters larger than about 26 feet across. Using data from seismometers deployed during the NASA InSight mission to Mars, the researchers found that six seismic events recorded in the station's close vicinity were previously identified as meteorite impacts. Now, the researchers have found that these six seismic events belong to a much larger group of Martian earthquakes, called very high frequency events. The source process of these earthquakes is much faster than a tectonic Martian earthquake of similar size. Whereas a typical magnitude 3 earthquake on Mars takes several seconds, an impact-generated event of similar size takes only 0.2 seconds or less due to the hypervelocity of the collision. By analyzing Martian earthquake spectra, 80 more Martian earthquakes were identified, which are now thought to be caused by meteorite strikes. The seismic signals generated by the impacts show that meteorite impacts are five times more frequent than previously thought. The seismic data, in addition to observational data, provide a new tool for calculating meteorite impact rates and planning future Mars missions.


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