At the place where the space rock once hit the surface of Mars, there is a giant crater with a diameter of 110 kilometers. There was probably a large shallow ocean there at the time.
Using stones and rocks near the crater, which has been named Pohl, scientists calculated that the impact occurred about 3.4 billion years ago. Based on Pohl’s size, researchers estimate the asteroid was 3 to 9 kilometers in length.
The researchers also simulated the enormous tsunami with computer simulations. For example, they discovered that the waves could be up to 250 meters high and could reach about 1,500 kilometers.
The impact is believed to have released 13 million megatons of TNT energy. In comparison, the most powerful atomic bomb ever detonated on Earth had an energy of more than 50 megatons of TNT energy. That hydrogen bomb (Tsar Bomba) was detonated during a test in 1961 by the Soviet Union.
Comparison with meteorite that killed dinosaurs
The impact is similar to that of the meteorite that hit Earth 66 million years ago and put an end to the dinosaurs . The crater of that meteorite (the Chicxulub crater) is located near Mexico and is comparable in size to Pohl.
Between four and three billion years ago, a fifth of Mars was likely covered by shallow oceans. At that time, space rocks probably caused regular tsunamis on the planet. For example, in 2019 Lomonosov crater was associated with another giant tidal wave.
About three billion years ago, the oceans on Mars began to dry up, according to NASA. During several unmanned missions to the red planet, the space agency has discovered many traces of those oceans.
The study appeared in the scientific journal Scientific Reports .