NASA's NASA's InSight has recorded two new powerful marsquakes. Credit: NASA/JPL-CaltechInSight has recorded two new powerful marsquakes. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Powerful Earthquakes Spotted by NASA Lander on Mars

InSight recorded some of the most intense Marsquakes to date.

In March this year, the SEIS seismograph of the automatic station InSight registered two new intense “Marsquakes”. The source of the tremors is once again in the Cerberus Fossae region which is known to be a young and active tectonic structure. 

In March 2019, InSight registered the first Marsquake. The SEIS seismograph was able to put an end to the long-term debate about whether Mars is still seismically active due to the processes occurring in its depths.

Since then, it has discovered more than five hundred such events, the magnitude of which never exceeds 4. This allowed planetary scientists to understand where the boundaries of the inner layers of Mars lie.

Furthermore, NASA recently revealed the results of a groundbreaking study that confirmed the true size of the planet’s core. We have a separate article on this discovered which you can read here.

General view of the landing platform and the locations of scientific instruments. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech
General view of the landing platform and the locations of scientific instruments. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

InSight recorded new marsquakes in March

A team of scientists working with seismograph data of InSight recently reported two new clear cases of registration of marsquakes, which were recorded on March 7 and 18, 2021, and had magnitudes of 3.3 and 3.1. The two previous seismic events that were recorded had magnitudes 3.6 and 3.5.

Internal structure of a seismometer SEIS. Credit: IPGP / David Ducros
The internal structure of a seismometer SEIS. Credit: IPGP / David Ducros

Scientists revealed that these recent marsquakes had the most powerful aftershocks recorded on the Red Planet, and their sources are in the region of Cerberus Fossae, which are a network of faults in Mars’ crust. New data supports the idea that this region is one of the youngest tectonic structures on the planet, which has become the center of seismic activity.

Scientists note that during the work of the seismograph, it has recorded two different types of shocks on the planet. Some were more like terrestrial ones and spread both inside the planet and near its surface. The second type, however, was more like lunar tremors that are scattered inside the planet. All four new powerful seismic events on Mars were attributed to the “terrestrial” type.

This image shows landslides in Cerberus Fossae, a young tectonic region that creates some of the most powerful marsquakes ever recorded. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

At the present time, the seismograph is operating in the most ideal working conditions. The winds that interfere with the operation of the device have subsided. Moreover, InSight began to cover the plume that connects the seismograph with the landing platform with sand. This is necessary to reduce data noise caused by diurnal variations in plume temperature.

On March 4, 2021, InSight dug two small trenches with the bucket installed at the end of a 2.4-meter robotic arm IDA (Instrument Deployment Arm). It collected sand in piles, and on March 15, covered the seismograph with the first batch of soil. This is necessary so that the sand can be poured onto the plume without affecting the area where the cap is bordered by the surface of Mars.

While InSight is currently operating and registering marsquakes in ideal working conditions, soon the seismograph will have to temporarily stop its work due to the onset of the Martian winter.

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Carpineti, D. (2021, April 02). NASA’s insight have measured two New Sizable Marsquakes.
Greicius, T. (2021, April 01). NASA’s insight detects two Sizable quakes on Mars.
NASA. (2021, April 01). NASA’s insight detects two Sizable quakes on Mars – NASA’S InSight Mars lander.
O’Neill, M. (2021, April 01). Marsquake! NASA’s InSight detects two Sizable quakes on Mars.

Written by Vladislav Tchakarov

Hello, my name is Vladislav and I am glad to have you here on Curiosmos. As a history student, I have a strong passion for history and science, and the opportunity to research and write in this field on a daily basis is a dream come true.

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