NASA’s Mars Insight lander has reached another milestone by measuring and recording for the very first time a likely “marsquake.”
A faint seismic signal was recorded by the lander’s Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS) on April 6th, 128th Martian day, or sol. This is the first recorded trembling inside the Red Planet. “We’ve been collecting background noise up until now, but this first event officially kicks off a new field: Martian seismology,” said InSight Principal Investigator Bruce Banerdt of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).
This seismic event was too small to provide concrete data on the Martian interior, which is one of Insight’s main objectives. Smaller rumbles were previously recorded on March 14, April 10, and April 11. The seismometer was placed on December 19, 2018.
The Martian surface is extremely quiet unlike on Earth. The Earth’s surface is constantly quivering from seismic noise generated by the oceans and the weather. The SEIS is designed to pick up faint rumbles within Mars. The Red Planet doesn’t have tectonic plates like Earth, but still experiences quakes. The trembles are caused by the continual process of cooling and contraction that creates stress. As the stress builds up until strong enough to break the crust.
Insight’s seismic studies continues similar research that was done on the Moon during the Apollo missions between 1969 and 1977. NASA is hoping to learn more about Mars’ interior and how rocky planets form.