Mars to soon reveal the secret behind the STRANGE double-impact asteroids

The double impact asteroids are a strange phenomenon where two asteroids hit the same spot at the same time. While rare, Mars has many such craters created by double asteroid strike. But what do they actually reveal? Find out.

| Updated on: Aug 22 2022, 13:26 IST
Mars can be the key for scientists to understand what happens when double impact asteroids strike a planet. (Pixabay)
Mars can be the key for scientists to understand what happens when double impact asteroids strike a planet. (Pixabay)

Deep space is filled with mysteries and the more scientists explore the more confusing it gets. Take asteroids for example. In recent times, we have discovered a metallic asteroid, an armoured asteroid and now scientists are after an elusive type of binary asteroid that moves as a part of a system. Binary asteroids are just like normal asteroids but one of them revolves around the larger asteroid. This particular structure also causes interesting scenarios, especially when they strike a planet like Mars. When a binary asteroid strikes the surface of a planet, they are called double impact asteroids. And it is this impact crater that scientists are most interested in as it can show some weird physics phenomena.

According to a report by Wired, a study has been published in the journal Icarus which investigated this occurrence on planet Mars. Researchers studied the surface of the red planet and have found numerous caters that can possibly have been formed through double impact asteroid strikes. The lead author of the study, Dmitrii Vavilov told Wired that while they are really difficult to find, the team has been able to identify some of them based on their findings.

The weird physics behind double impact asteroid strike on Mars

The first time a binary asteroid was discovered was in 1993 when the NASA Galileo spacecraft spotted Ida on its way to Jupiter. Ida was the larger asteroid in a binary asteroid system and a smaller asteroid called Dactyl revolved around it just like the Moon revolves around the Earth. Since then, scientists have observed countless such asteroids to come to a rough conclusion that about 1 in every 6 asteroids is part of a binary system. That makes it about 16% of all asteroids.

But the asteroid in itself is not the most interesting part. It is what happens when they both collide with a surface. Elliot Sefton-Nash, the deputy project scientist on ESA's delayed ExoMars program, told Wired that the shockwaves from the two asteroids can collide and create a high pressure zone which is naturally never seen in the world. “It'd be like going the opposite way on a motorway. You might be able to see differences in minerals that form only under very high pressure,” he added.

And Mars is the perfect location to observe this since the planet's atmosphere and surface make it so that craters can remain visible for a really long time. Using high resolution cameras, researchers were able to find 150 double impact asteroid craters which were larger than four kilometres across. Now, it remains to be seen what a closer inspection of these sites will reveal to us.

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First Published Date: 29 Jun, 15:10 IST