NASA’s InSight Lander is slowly counting down the last of its days. Placed on Mars to study marsquakes and other phenomena on the surface of the Red Planet, NASA has learned a lot from its Martian lander. Now, though, in the throes of its last bit of power, the InSight Lander has captured something amazing, the sound of a meteorite slamming into Mars.
NASA released the sound on SoundCloud this week. It’s only an 11-second snippet of audio, but in it you can hear the sound of the wind as it blows across Mars and perhaps even some of the mechanical hum of the lander itself. After a few seconds, though, the relative silence is broken by a loud crashing noise as a meteorite explodes and slams into the planet’s surface.
This is the first time that the sound of a meteoroid impact has been recorded on another planet, which makes this 11-second snippet of audio even more impressive. NASA says that three distinct “bloops” can be heard in the sound byte, which represents the sound of the meteoroid entering the atmosphere, breaking up, and then striking the ground.
Hearing a meteorite slam into Mars was not something I expected to experience when I woke up today, much less something I expected from the Mars InSight Lander. InSight has been on its last leg for months now. The lander, which has been studying seismic activity on the Red Planet, found itself in quite a bit of trouble earlier this year as sand from the Martian surface had covered its solar panels.
NASA gave up on the lander and instead decided to run out the last of InSight’s power, continuing to study Mars instead of preserving the power and attempting to save it in any way. While InSight is dying, the lander has at least given us one more piece of data that wouldn’t have been available otherwise.