NASA detects a quake on Mars for the very first time — using sound
NASA’s Mars InSight lander just detected its first significant quake on Mars.
- Researchers on the project have analysed that the quake is more moon-like in nature than earth-like.
- The discovery of quakes on Mars to kick off a new field of study — Martian seismology.
The seismic signal was recorded on April 6 — Insight’s 128th day on Mars — and it’s the first tremor to have been recorded that is coming from inside the planet rather than being caused by extraneous forces.
Even though it’s still unknown what caused the quake, scientists at NASA and the National Centre for Space Studies (CNES) — the French apex space agency — have determined that the quakes are more moon-like in nature than similar to earthquakes.
The Martian Sol 128 event is exciting because its size and longer duration fit the profile of moonquakes detected on the lunar surface during the Apollo missions.
One of the reasons for this is that Mars does not have functioning tectonic plates right or even ones that are clearly defined. Even if the plates did exist or move around— that was a long time ago.
According to Bruce Banerdt, the principle investigator on the InSight mission, the discovery of ‘Marsquakes’ kicks off a new field of study — Martian seismology.
We've been collecting background noise up until now, but this first event officially kicks off a new field: Martian seismology.
But, NASA also points out that a quake of this size would barely be detectable on Earth. The only reason it’s significant on Mars is because the planet is so quiet. Three more quakes were also detected on Mars but they were ever weaker. Nonetheless, researchers on the project are optimistic that there are bigger quakes to come in the future.
We’re starting to have many small quakes. By the end of the mission we’ll have a super big quake.
InSight’s measurements of significant seismological activity will help with the lander’s primary mission to study the interior of Mars.
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