A New Crater Near InSight: Implications for Seismic Impact Detectability on Mars

I. J. Daubar*, N. A. Teanby, A. Horleston, J. Wookey, et al.

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)
125 Downloads (Pure)


A new 1.5 meter diameter impact crater was discovered on Mars only ~40 km from the InSight lander. Context camera images constrained its formation between February 21 and April 6, 2019; follow-up HiRISE images resolved the crater. During this time period, three seismic events were identified in InSight data. We derive expected seismic signal characteristics and use them to evaluate each of the seismic events. However, none of them can definitively be associated with this source. Atmospheric perturbations are generally expected to be generated during impacts; however, in this case, no signal could be identified as related to the known impact. Using scaling relationships based on the terrestrial and lunar analogs and numerical modeling, we predict the amplitude, peak frequency, and duration of the seismic signal that would have emanated from this impact. The predicted amplitude falls near the lowest levels of the measured seismometer noise for the predicted frequency. Hence it is not surprising this impact event was not positively identified in the seismic data. Finding this crater was a lucky event as its formation this close to InSight has a probability of only ~0.2, and the odds of capturing it in before and after images is extremely low. We revisit impact-seismic discriminators in light of real experience with a seismometer on the martian surface. Using measured noise of the instrument, we revise our previous prediction of seismic impact detections downwards, from ~a few to tens, to just ~2 per Earth year, still with an order of magnitude uncertainty.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2020JE006382
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Planets
Issue number8
Early online date11 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2020


  • impact cratering
  • seismology
  • Mars
  • crater
  • InSight


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