Space Science Reviews

, Volume 211, Issue 1–4, pp 525–545 | Cite as

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

  • J. StevanovićEmail author
  • N. A. Teanby
  • J. Wookey
  • N. Selby
  • I. J. Daubar
  • J. Vaubaillon
  • R. Garcia


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 first 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 \({\sim}\,1000\) 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 inefficiencies and by instrument capability for SEIS. We predict between 10–200 detectable events per year for InSight.


Meteors Airbursts Mars Atmospheric processes 



This research was funded by the Natural Environmental Research Council, the Leverhulme Trust, and the UK Space Agency.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Earth SciencesUniversity of BristolBristolUK
  2. 2.AWE BlacknestReadingUK
  3. 3.AWE BlacknestReadingUK
  4. 4.Jet Propulsion LaboratoryCalifornia Institute of TechnologyPasadenaUSA
  5. 5.IMCCEObservatoire de ParisParisFrance
  6. 6.Institut Supérieur de l’Aéronautique et de l’Espace (ISAE-SUPAERO)Université de ToulouseToulouse cedex 4France

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