It’s not just Earth that’s shaking these days.
A NASA mission on Mars has recorded evidence of seismic activity, including 174 seismic events across Mars–and 20 events with a magnitude of three or four.
Evidence of seismic activity on Mars that surprised the NASA team is part of a suite of six studies, published Monday in the journals Nature Geoscience and Nature Communications, capturing those first 10 months.
Since landing on Mars in November 2018, NASA’s InSight lander has been performing an extensive doctor’s checkup on the red planet, revealing some results that surprised InSight’s science team.
While the instruments onboard InSight were designed to capture two years worth of data, the seismometer, which measures Marsquakes, returned that intriguing data about Mars in much less time.
“We’re using geophysics to probe the deep interior of Mars. For the first time, we’ve established that Mars is a seismically active planet,” said Bruce Banerdt, InSight’s principal investigator. “That activity is greater than that of the moon, but less than on Earth.”
To be clear, a four magnitude Marsquake doesn’t feel the same as it would on Earth because the events on Mars occur deeper beneath the surface than they do on Earth.
If you were standing directly over the spot when a Marsquake happened, you might sense motion, but it wouldn’t cause any damage, said Suzanne Smrekar, InSight’s deputy principal investigator.
Still, confirming that Mars is seismically active was a major thrill for Insight’s team.
“We’ve been planning this mission for the last ten years, so it’s been a long road to get these results,” said Bruce Banerdt, InSight’s principal investigator.