Mars lander picks up what's likely 1st detected marsquake

Mars lander picks up what's likely 1st detected marsquake

NASA's robotic probe InSight has detected and measured what scientists believe to be a "marsquake", marking the first time a likely seismological tremor has been recorded on another planet, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California reported on Tuesday.

Martian winds have been recorded on the surface and can be heard on the recording released by the agency. The spacecraft has been on the surface of Mars since November as part of an ongoing mission to listen for quakes on the red planet. The faint rumbles appear to have come from the inside of the planet, and are still being studied by my team. The team will continue to study these events to try to determine their cause.

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. 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 probe's prime mission is set to run for two Earth years - a little more than one Martian year. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech. By contrast, Earth's interior has been wiped of its early history by the constant churning of its tectonic plates, which, over millions of years, buries crust in the planet's interior even as it brings elements of the core to the surface.

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The lead scientist responsible for the spacecraft, Bruce Banerdt of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., said the recent observation is a continuation of the scientific work begun by the Apollo moonwalkers almost half a century ago.

"We've been collecting background noise (on Mars) up until now, but this first event officially kicks off a new field: Martian seismology!" The astronauts left behind seismometers that measured thousands of moonquakes. Mars and the Moon do not have tectonic plates, but they still experience quakes - in their cases, caused by a continual process of cooling and contraction that creates stress.

InSight's other main experiment isn't going as well.

The weak nature of this seismic event means NASA didn't get any "solid data" on the planet's interior, according to NASA. "So we are very confident that this is a marsquake", Philippe Lognonné, a geophysics and planetary science professor at University Paris Diderot in France and lead researcher for InSight's seismometer, said in an email. "While I'm looking forward to those first images from the surface, I am even more eager to see the first data sets revealing what is happening deep below our landing pads".

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