In a first, NASA Mars lander feels shockwaves from meteor impacts

Though nearing its end, the plucky InSight lander is still doing groundbreaking science—including the first observations of their kind on the red planet.

On the red planet next door, a plucky spacecraft is busy recording the fits and spasms of the world beneath its feet—even as it approaches the end of its life.

NASA’s InSight lander, which arrived on Mars in 2018, wasn’t designed to look outward—it was  designed to feel the planet tremble, to measure its quakes and rumbles, and to help scientists map the Martian interior. But the lander has also picked up the jitters of a planet being pummeled by space rocks: InSight has detected the signatures of at least four meteors colliding with Mars, and scientists have spotted the resulting craters in images taken from orbit.

“These observations are very exciting,” says Elizabeth Silber of Canada’s Western University, who studies similar phenomena but was not involved in the InSight observations. “It is awesome that we have arrived at a technological point at which we're advanced enough to be able to detect and link seismic signatures to impact events on another planet.”

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