NASA’s Lander Confirms ‘Marsquakes'

NASA's robotic lander detects quakes on Mars

NASA’s Lander Confirms ‘Marsquakes'

NASA’s Lander Confirms ‘Marsquakes’


NASA’s InSight robotic lander detects the Red Planet; Mars is active seismically. We can not name this activation rolling, shaking, and rattling. Perhaps, the best suitable word to name this term is ‘Marsquakes.’

For understanding or detect any quakes on Mars, scientists sent the InSight lander back in November 2018. The robotic lander touched the surface of the planet at that time. Since then, it has been detecting the quakes on this Red Planet by studying its deep interior. Already it has identified 450 marsquakes, and most of them are quite mighty. 

The seismometer of the lander is a kind of ground-motion detection sensor. It recorded the Martian seismic activity. According to the study report, the marsquakes are more potent than that of the moon but milder than earthquakes.

4.5 billion years ago, Mars was in molten form, likewise the other planets of the solar system. A took a long time for Mars to cool down. This long term cooling down of the planet is the reason behind the Martian seismic activity.

Bruce Banerdt is a planetary geophysicist. As a principal mission investigator at Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA, California, says, “As the planet cools, it contracts, and then the brittle outer layers have to fracture in order to sort of maintain themselves on the surface. That’s kind of the long-term source of stresses.”

Scientists always suspected of seismic activities on Mars, but they were never able to prove. Before this event, none could detect the seismic activity definitively.

Cerberus Fossae is a region on Mars with showing instances of larger marsquakes. This location shows the signs of faulting and fluvial flow, volcanic flows covering a range of past 10 million years. But, to the scientists, it is nothing but recent geological terms.

Suzanne Smrekar is the deputy principal investigator of the InSight mission. This JPL planetary geophysicist says, “Thus, this area still has activity at depth, perhaps including hot magma. This, in turn, shows that Mars has regional variability in activity, with some areas still quite active.”

For measuring the marsquakes, the researchers built a magnitude scale that works similarly to the scale measuring earthquakes. The highest seismic activity on Mars is equal to nearly a magnitude 4 earthquakes. It means that when a quake with this magnitude happens, it spreads up to dozen of miles and do not cause much damage.   

The team has already described several marsquakes with the magnitude ranging from 3 to 4 in their study report and later published them on Nature Communications and Nature Geoscience journal. 

The geological dynamics between the Earth and Mars differ from each other. While the Earth has a wide range of plates moving inexorably, they move over a rocky inner layer above Earth’s core. There are no such tectonic plates on Mars.

The full elaboration of InSight is Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy, and Heat Transport. Elysium Planitia is the location where InSight stands. The area is just north of the Martian equator.

Another dissimilarity between Mars and the Earth is that Mars does not have a global magnetic field. Instead, it has a local magnetic field. InSight’s instruments find that the magnetic field is ten times stronger than it was believed earlier. Currently, InSight is working on finding out more details about Mars’s sophisticated atmosphere.