New research: Rate of sudden meteorite impacts on Mars could serve as 'cosmic clock' New research: Rate of sudden meteorite impacts on Mars could serve as 'cosmic clock'

New research: Rate of sudden meteorite impacts on Mars could serve as 'cosmic clock'

New research: Rate of sudden meteorite impacts on Mars could serve as 'cosmic clock'

The Red Planet is hit by meteorites almost every day, with impacts estimated to be two to 10 times larger than previously thought.

The new research used data from NASA's InSight mission, which was able to use "marsquakes" to better understand the planet.

Scientists have found that Mars is exposed to about 280 to 360 meteorite impacts every year. These impacts leave behind craters more than eight meters wide, and shake the planet's surface.

The research could help scientists understand how Mars and other planets have changed over time. “By using seismic data to better understand how often meteorites hit Mars and how these impacts change its surface, we can start to piece together a timeline of the Red Planet’s geological history and evolution,” said Natalia Wojcicka of Imperial College London, one of the study’s co-authors. “It can be thought of as a kind of ‘cosmic clock’ to help us date the surface of Mars and, perhaps, in the future, other planets in the Solar System.”

It may also help us understand the dangers that meteorites pose to Earth. Findings from Mars could also inform safety work on future missions that send robots, or even humans, to the Red Planet.

“Planetary impacts happen all over the solar system all the time,” added Ingrid Daubar, of Brown University. “We’re interested in studying that on Mars because then we can compare what happens on Mars to what happens on Earth. That’s important for understanding our solar system, what’s in it, and what the number of impacting objects in our solar system looks like, both as hazards to Earth and historically to other planets.”

The new study was published in the journal Nature Astronomy.

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