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Wednesday, 24 April 2019

NASA InSight Probe Detected First Tremor, Like Earthquake, On Mars

The scientists in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NASA, have seen an evidence confirming the existence of seismic activity in the Martian soil. They felt feeble quake in the planet using a special instrument designed for the this purpose.

After landing on Mars last November, NASA's InSight spacecraft expanded its weather equipment with the addition of the SEIS seismograph, manufactured by French space agency CNES. With the instrument, for the first time InSight was able to capture a marsquake, earthquake-like quake on Earth. The seismic signal was felt by the spacecraft on the sixth day and released on Tuesday, 23, by the official Twitter handle of the mission, @NASAInSight.

According to Bruce Banerdt, principal investigator for the InSight project at the NASA laboratory in Pasadena, California, marsquake begins a new field of knowledge and research on Mars: Martian seismology.


The quake was "weak, but distinct," said scientists involved in the project. But this is already proof that there is still seismic activity on Mars. They added that, unlike other shocks that the probe has already captured, this was a ground tremor coming from the interior of the planet and not due to some external factor such as the wind.

But because of the low intensity of the quake, scientists could not come to much conclusions about the interior of Mars. So they expect future, even stronger, earthquakes to provide more knowledge.

Meanwhile, NASA and its international partners continue to develop the Heat and Physical Properties Package, or HP3, known as a "mole." A kind of "hammer", the tool is part of InSight and was designed to dig, initially, up to five meters on the surface of Mars. With it, scientists hope to obtain additional information about the Martian interior.


Shortly after starting to drill the ground two months ago, the equipment was defective and InSight's excavation process was halted. Now, scientists are investigating whether the probe hit a rock or some other obstacle that is impeding progress.

Similar to tremors captured on the Moon

In 1969, when American astronaut Neil Armstrong was the first man to step on the moon, a seismograph was deployed on the natural satellite to study its internal structure. The result was surprising: scientists found a geologically very active world.

French scientists at CNES, in conjunction with NASA, discovered that the first marsquake detected resembles those occurring on the Moon. "InSight's first readings continue the research that began with the Apollo missions," Banerdt said.


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