Bolide Airbursts as a Seismic Source for the 2018 Mars InSight Mission

J. Stevanović*, N. A. Teanby, J. Wookey, N. Selby, I. J. Daubar, J. Vaubaillon, R. Garcia

*Corresponding author for this work

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

20 Citations (Scopus)
252 Downloads (Pure)


In 2018, NASA will launch InSight, a single-station suite of geophysical instruments, designed to characterise the martian interior. We investigate the seismo-acoustic signal generated by a bolide entering the martian atmosphere and exploding in a terminal airburst, and assess this phenomenon as a potential observable for the SEIS seismic payload. Terrestrial analogue data from four recent events are used to identify diagnostic airburst characteristics in both the time and frequency domain.

In order to estimate a potential number of detectable events for InSight, we rst model the impactor source population from observations made on the Earth, scaled for planetary radius, entry velocity and source density.We go on to calculate a range of potential airbursts from the larger incident impactor population. We estimate there to be 1000 events of this nature per year on Mars. To then derive a detectable number of airbursts for InSight, we scale this number according to atmospheric attenuation, air-to-ground coupling ineciencies and by instrument capability for SEIS. We predict between 10{200 detectable events per year for InSight.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)525-545
Number of pages21
JournalSpace Science Reviews
Issue number1-4
Early online date9 Jan 2017
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017


  • Meteors
  • Airbursts
  • Mars
  • Atmospheric processes


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