NASA insight Mars lander which has been on the planet surface since November now detected its first possible quake on the Red Planet. It is a first one in the spacecraft ongoing mission to listen for rumblings coming from inside the planet. Unluckily, the so-called marsquake was too small to help scientist understand the Mars structure.
This event confirmed one thing that mars is seismically active and that InSight might be able to pick up more quakes in the future. Launched in May 2018 the insight lander had just one goal to sit still on Mars and listen for these marsquakes. Insight spacecraft is equipped with an incredibly sensitive, dome-shaped seismometer built by France’s space agency, CNES. The instrument is very sensitive that it must be sealed in a vacuum so that it can catch the tiniest perturbations in the Martian crust.
The insight lander carefully placed the seismometer nicknamed SEIS, at the surface of Mars on December 19th, and the spacecraft has been trying to pick up a quake since then.
“We’ve been collecting background noise up until now, but this first event officially kicks off a new field: Martian seismology!” Bruce Banerdt a geologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and the principal investigator of the InSight mission said in a statement.
The first signal of quake came on April 6th which confirmed that Mars is capable of producing quakes. Since then NASA insight mars lander has picked up more signals of seismic activity, but all were much weaker than the April 6th event. The cause of Marsquake is still unknown.
“We’ve been waiting months for our first marsquake,” Philippe Lognonné, the principal investigator for SEIS, said in a statement. “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 studied it more and modeled our data.”
Researchers believe that the origin of marsquake is different than the origins of seismic activity here on Earth. As we know that most the earthquakes happen due to plate tectonics, huge portions of the earth crust are constantly shifting and rubbing against one another, this movement takes place deep inside the earth. But on Mars, the planet is cooler and lesser active, therefore, quakes are thought to be caused by smaller movements along cracks within the planet’s rocky crust.