If you thought space rocks used Earth for target practice, perhaps you should be glad you don’t live on Mars.
According to NASA, the red planets gets impacted by over 200 small asteroids or bits of comets every year, most of which leave craters at least 3.9 meters in width. Scientists have so far found 248 new impact sites on Mars in the last 10 years, thanks to NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and its High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera.
HiRISE took photos of the fresh craters, which NASA scientists then compared with other images of the same sites taken before the more recent collisions. Findings like these can help scientists measure the date and the meteorite impact rate on the planet more accurately, and help them work out how much of the planet's current surface features are due to climate change.
A lot of the asteroids that strike Mars are not the sort that would stand a chance against Earth's atmosphere, though. The “small asteroids” NASA refers to are only between 1-2 meters wide, and only touch down on Mars because of the planet's thin atmosphere. Here on Earth, space rocks of that size would normally burn up in our atmosphere way before impact. Phew!
This story, "Over 200 asteroids strike Mars each year (the poor thing!)" was originally published by TechHive.