First seismic tremor detected on Mars
The Mars InSight lander has recorded the first ever seismic tremor on the Red Planet. Weak seismic signals were detected on April 6 and, scientists believe, their profile is similar to tremors recorded on the Moon during the Apollo missions.
Weak but distinct tremors were recorded by the SEIS (Seisic Experiment for Interior Structure) instrument. The seismic signal was detected on April 6 – On the 128th day of InSight’s mission to Mars. This is the first recorded „Mars quake” and appears to come from within the planet, rather than from environmental disturbances on the surface. Scientists are still studying the data to determine the exact cause of the signal.
The SEIS seismometer, developed by the French government agency National Center for Space Studies, detected a subtle tremor similar to the signaloin seismological data recorded on the Moon in the Apollo missions.
Teamoł scientistsow of the InSight mission is looking for a shockoin seismic to better understand how the rocky planets formed. Causes of tremorsow on Mars roare fundamentally different from the causes that cause tremors on Earth. A thorough study of this phenomenon on the Red Planet can helpoc scientists to understand what our planet looked like in its youth.
– The first InSight readings continue the study, whichore began with the Apollo missions. Until now, we’ve only recorded background noise, but these first tremors officially open up a new field of research – Martian seismology, said the head of theoInSight mission principal investigator Bruce Banerdt of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).
The recorded seismic event was too weak to provide solid data on the Martian interior, whichore is one of the mainownych targetsoInSight mission. The Martian surface is extremely quiet, allowing SEIS, a specially designed seismometer, to pick up very weak signals. Unlike Mars, the Earth’s surface trembles constantly. Headownie is seismic noise caused by the oceans and weather. Had such a weak signal appeared in Southern California it would have been lost in dozens of tiny, similar cracklesow, whichore appearing there every day.
– The event recorded on the 128th day of the mission is exciting because its size and longer duration match the profile of Moon quakes detected on the surface of the Silver Globe during the Apollo missions, said NASA’s Lori Glaze.
Apollo mission astronauts installed five seismometers on the moonow, ktore measured thousands of tremorsoin 1969-1977. They revealed seismic activity on the Moon. Rotive materials inside a planet or moon can change the speed of seismic waves or reflect them, allowing scientists to use these waves to learn about the interior of an object and model its formation.
InSight’s seismometer, whichory lander placed on the planet’s surface on December 19 last year allows us to collect similar data on Mars. Scientists studying the deep interior of Mars hope to learn how other rocky worlds, including Earth and the Moon, formed.
– We have been waiting for such a signal for months,” said Philippe Lognonné, head of the SEIS team at the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (IPGP) in France. – It is very exciting. Finally, we have dowod that Mars is still seismically active. We are waiting for the release of detailedołowy resultow to analyze them – added.
Oprocz signal detected on the 128th day of the mission, the seismometer also recorded three other signals – on March 14, April 10 and April 11. These signals were weaker than the event recorded on Day 128 of the mission and more ambiguous in origin. Teamoł scientistsow will continue to study these events to determine their cause.
Earthquakes are caused mainlyownie by the movements of tectonic plates. Mars and the Moon do not have tectonic plates, but are still experiencing upheavalow. In their case, this is due to the continuous process of cooling and shrinking, which causes stress. These tensions build up over time until they eventually cause crustal rupture and seismic shaking.
Detection of these small tremorsow required a tremendous feat of engineering. On Earth, high-quality seismometers are often locked in underground bunkers to isolate them from temperature and weather changes. The InSight instrument has some ingenious isolation barriers, including a shield built by JPL called the Wind and Thermal Shield, ktora protects equipment from extreme temperature changes on the planet and strong winds.