Published: Wed, April 24, 2019
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

NASA's InSight lander has detected 1st 'marsquake,' scientists say

NASA's InSight lander has detected 1st 'marsquake,' scientists say

The causes of quakes on Mars are fundamentally different from those that cause temblors on Earth; marsquakes could help scientists understand what our planet looked like in its infancy.

She's optimistic that InSight will eventually record more intense shaking - either from a meteorite impact or an internal source - that will give researchers a better view of the planet's deep interior.

"If you were a Martian coming to explore Earth's interior like we are exploring Mars' interior, it wouldn't matter if you put down in the middle of Kansas or the beaches of Oahu", said Banerdt.

The French space agency Cnes, which operates SEIS, said it had detected "a weak but distinct seismic signal" from the probe into its formation billions of years ago. The faint rumbles appear to have come from the inside of the planet, and are still being studied by my team.

According to NASA, the InSight's seismometer, which was installed on the surface of Mars on December 19, 2018, will enable scientists to gather data about the deep interior of Mars, allowing scientists to learn about how other rocky worlds, including Earth and Mars, formed.

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NASA says three other seismic signals were detected by SEIS' more sensitive "very broadband sensors" on March 14, April 10 and April 11, however scientists say these signals were even smaller than the April 6 event and more ambiguous in origin.

Meanwhile, NASA and its worldwide partners are continuing to troubleshoot a probe known as the "mole", which is a part of the lander created to dig up to five meters into the surface to provide additional information about the Martian interior. InSight's instrument has several ingenious insulating barriers, including a cover built by JPL called the Wind and Thermal Shield, to protect it from the planet's extreme temperature changes and high winds. The image was taken on the 110th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

"We've been collecting background noise up until now, but this first event officially kicks off a new field: Martian seismology", InSight principal investigator Bruce Banerdt said in a news release.

The popular opinion among geologists is that the quakes on Mars and the Moon doesn't have to do with tectonic plates at all.

It is the first seismic signal detected on the surface of a planetary body other than the Earth and its Moon. Tremors in Mars' interiors were also among the InSight mission's key science goals. "The seismic event is too small to provide useful data on the Martian interior, one of InSight's main objectives", CNES said. "It's so exciting to finally have proof that Mars is still seismically active. We're looking forward to sharing detailed results once we've had a chance to analyze them".

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