A huge meteorite hit Mars. Then NASA made a bigger discovery.

It was no ordinary earthquake to hear the Insight Mars lander growl through the ground of the Red Planet on Christmas Eve last year. NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter apparently found that a spectacular meteor impact near Mars’ equator, more than 2,000 miles from a vantage point in space, is responsible for what is believed to be one of the largest impacts ever observed on a neighboring planet. I found it at a vantage point. But what excites scientists as much or more than recorded seismic activity is the discovery of a meteor hitting Mars. A huge boulder-sized chunk of ice that exploded from a crater. So far, no subterranean ice has been found in this region, the warmest region on Earth. “This is a really interesting result,” said Lori Glaze, NASA’s director of planetary science, at a press conference on Thursday. “Of course, we know there is ice near the poles of Mars. But when planning future Mars explorations, we want to land astronauts as close to the equator as possible. At low latitudes, ice can be converted into water, oxygen or hydrogen. Yes, it can be really useful.” Tweet may have been deleted (opens in a new tab) See also: NASA just showed why the Mars lander is shutting down soon. The discovery, recently published in two related studies in the journal Science, is the NASA’s InSight lander, which is rapidly losing power. Scientists estimate that about four to eight weeks remain before contact with the lander is lost. At that point, the mission ends. For the past four years, Insight has studied more than 1,000 earthquakes and collected daily weather forecasts. It helped detect the planet’s large liquid nuclei and map Mars’ inner geology. The program leader prepared the public for this result for some time. While the spacecraft was on the surface of Mars, dust accumulated on the solar panels. A layer of sand on the Red Desert planet has blocked the rays it needs to convert into electricity. The team cut back on Insight’s work to squeeze as much science as possible before the hardware gets it right. While the Insight lander was on the surface of Mars, dust piled up on the solar panels. Source: NASA Sign up for Mashable’s Top Stories newsletter today. Then, the team got a little worse last month. A savage dust storm swept through most of Mar’s southern hemisphere. Insights dropped from about 400 watt-hours to less than 300 watt-hours per day on Mars. “Unfortunately, since this is a big dust storm, it actually put a lot of dust into the atmosphere and reduced the amount of sunlight,” said Bruce Banerdt, senior researcher at Insight at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. The tweet may have been deleted (new But NASA believes scientists will continue to learn a lot about Mars’ past climatic conditions and how and when the ice was buried in a fresh crater 500 feet wide and embarrassingly 70 feet deep. Ingrid Daubar, a planetary scientist at Brown University who leads the Impact Science working group, said she’s convinced the ice came from Mars and not meteors. “We wouldn’t expect much, even if we had the original impactor to survive this high-energy explosion.”
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