NASA discovers doomed asteroid that exploded in Martian atmosphere

Mars is a desolate, irradiated, lifeless, windswept land. But it’s also the scene of dramatic action, as space rocks slam into the Martian surface.

Chunks of asteroids or comets often scar the deserts of Mars, in part because the red planet orbits close to the solar system’s asteroid belt, a region filled with millions of asteroids. When they collided with Mars, the Martian atmosphere was only one percent as dense as Earth’s, meaning these space rocks were unlikely to heat up and break down.

However, NASA recently found evidence that an object did break up in the Martian atmosphere after being heated – it shattered, but did not completely disintegrate. The agency’s orbiting spacecraft, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, discovered a new impact group next to a larger crater.

“As the impactor fell toward Mars, friction with the atmosphere caused the impactor to break into smaller pieces shortly before impacting the Martian surface, creating this remarkable pattern,” said Mohammad, a planetary scientist and member of the spacecraft’s camera team. said Mohamed Ramy El-Maarry. Written online. The blog has an interesting title: “Mars Atmosphere Strikes Back!”

See also:

NASA rover finds damaged helicopter in middle of Martian desert

The image below was taken by the spacecraft’s high-resolution camera (called HiRISE, or High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment), which can see things as small as a kitchen table from hundreds of miles above Mars.

Mix and match speed of light

This photo of Mars was taken from about 165 miles (265 kilometers) above and is about 0.6 miles (or 1 kilometer) across. The larger impact is in the lower left corner; the main distribution of smaller impacts is on the right.

Scattered impact sites recently captured by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Scattered impact sites recently captured by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
Image credit: NASA / Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology / Arizona

Unlike Earth, Mars doesn’t hide its impacts. Earth is a world of intense geological activity, shifting tectonic plates, and volcanic eruptions that could obscure or wash away impact sites. Mars is not nearly dead geologically—Marsquakes occur regularly there—but it is not as active as Earth.

Although the new impacts shown above are relatively small, Mars is dotted with sizable craters. NASA estimates there are More than 250,000 The impact crater is about the same size as Arizona’s famous Barringer Crater, which is about 4,000 feet in diameter. There are more than 43,000 craters on Mars that are more than three miles wide.

However, Mars wasn’t always a dry, cratered desert with a thin atmosphere. The Red Planet was once filled with water, and raging rivers once fed vast lakes. Planetary scientists suspect these waters may have harbored primitive Martian life—although no such evidence has yet been found.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *