Published: Sat, April 27, 2019
Sci-tech | By Jackie Newman

Marsquake: NASA just detected first marsquake on the Red Planet

Marsquake: NASA just detected first marsquake on the Red Planet

As indicated by Bruce Banerdt, the principle investigator on the InSight mission, the discovery of "Marsquakes" commences another field of study - Martian seismology.

You'll remember that back in March, NASA was faced with a huge hurdle to overcome when the InSight's drilling tool failed to drill deep enough into the Martian surface.

Last December, NASA's Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) mission's lander extended its robotic arms and placed a seismometer - a device that measures quakes - onto Mars' surface.

Regardless of what InSight finds, every bump and buzz it feels will add to our knowledge of the red planet, says Tanya Harrison, Mars scientist at Arizona State University.

For the first time, NASA's Mars InSight lander has successfully recorded and measured what seems to be a tremor on the red planet.

Mars does not have tectonic plates that crash into each other - the primary cause of quakes on Earth. This is expected to be the first of multiple marsquakes detected by the SEIS instrument.

Three different types of sounds can be heard on the above recording, according to NASA.

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Mars and the Moon are not tectonically active, and do not produce the kind of cataclysmic quakes that we sometimes experience on Earth. To the surprise of scientists, the seismic activity of Mars had more in common with a tremor on the moon rather than on Earth.

The space agency's InSight probe detected its first faint rumble on April 6, several months after landing with a seismometer on board. Thousands of quakes were recorded on the Moon from 1969 to 1977.

"The Sol 128 event is exciting because its size and longer duration fit the profile of moonquakes detected on the lunar surface during NASA's Apollo missions", said Dr. Lori Glaze, Planetary Science Division director at NASA Headquarters. Scientists assert, Mars is not almost as geologically active as Earth and, like our moon, lacks tectonic plates.

The InSights mission's objective is to help understand the interior of Mars and thus its formation and evolution.

"We've been waiting months for a signal like this", said SEIS team lead Philippe Lognonné of the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (IPGP).

The Sol 128 signal is an exciting milestone for the team. Though InSight sits on the Martian surface, it is covered by a Wind and Thermal Shield that protects it from high winds and extreme temperatures. However, both worlds contain fault lines that can fracture under pressure, sending seismic waves through their interiors.

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