Tech UPTechnologyThey record the first earthquake on Mars

They record the first earthquake on Mars

NASA appears to have captured the first recording of an earthquake on Mars. On April 6, the Mars InSight lander’s seismometer recorded a brief series of howls, growls, and miscellaneous sounds. One of those sounds, a growl, is likely a Mars earthquake, representing the first recorded sound from inside the red planet, scientists say.

Most of the data collected to date by the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS) instrument consisted of background noise, but eventually the instrument recorded what the team was looking for.

“We have been waiting for a signal like this for months,” said Philippe Lognonné, leader of the SEIS team from the Institute of Physics of the World in Paris (IPGP). “ It is so exciting to finally have proof that Mars is still seismically active … We look forward to sharing detailed results once we have had a chance to analyze them,” explains the expert.

The first recording of a Martian earthquake

The recording, released by NASA on April 23, lasts about 40 seconds . It begins with the weak, eerie howl of the Martian wind, followed by the vibration of the possible earthquake on Mars. The loud sound towards the end of the audio represents the robotic movement of the ship’s arm.

InSight landed on Mars in November 2018 with a mission to explore the interior of the red planet by tracking the seismic waves that arise within it. Mars is a quiet planet, – its surface is almost dead – that not only lacks the powerful earthquakes of the Earth caused by the displacement of tectonic plates, but also the seismic noises caused by winds and oceans. But the planet has small earthquakes, creaks, and noises caused when Mars cools and contracts.

Like Mars, the Moon is not tectonically active . Its seismic activity is therefore caused by a slow and slight contraction as the interior cools, a process that has been ongoing since its formation 4.5 billion years ago. As the interior contracts, it creates stresses on the outer crust until it eventually cracks, causing tremors. Planetary scientists believe that the same type of process is also behind the tremors on Mars.

Key facts

Scientists hope that data from the InSight spacecraft will eventually reveal the internal structure of the planet, including the size and density of its crust, mantle and core, how heat flows through the planet, and even whether there may be water inside.

They claim that this particular short recording is not long enough to provide much information about the Martian interior, but it does demonstrate that Mars is seismically active and kicks off a new field of research: the seismology of Mars.

Referencia: JPL/Caltech/NASA. NASA. NASA’s InSight lander captures audio of first likely ‘quake’ on Mars. Published online April 23, 2019.

 

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