The InSight lander has been hard at work since it arrived on the surface of the planet in November 2018. The spacecraft detected a phenomenon which appears to be a marsquake. A dedicated seismometer (known as SEIS) was activated in December, but the first signs of a marsquake were found on April 6, or the 128th day of the mission. Data suggests that the seismic tremor on Mars was quite weak and it wouldn’t have been felt if it were on Earth, but the discovery is an excellent achievement for the lander and a mark of progress for the mission.
The seismometer used by the probe was designed and constructed by the French Space Agency (CNES). One of the SEIS team members stated that the news is essential since it proves that Mars has remained seismically active. Researchers are now working on sorting and refining the data as they aim to obtain a feasible model.
Marsquake detected by NASA InSight’s SEIS probe
Some voices claim that wind or other external influences generated the minor seismic tremor on Mars, but researchers from the InSight team believe that it comes from the planet itself. A major disappointment is represented by the fact that the marsquake was too small to convey data about the inner layers of the Red Planet.
The event can be compared with similar measurements which took place on the moon during the glory days of the Apollo initiatives in the span of 8 years, from 1969 to 1977 when thousands of lunar quakes were recorded.
While Earth features tectonic, Mars and the moon lack this particular feature and the seismic movements encountered on them are caused by faults in the crust. Since the surface of Mars is barren, the seismometer was able to pick up the weak signals generated by the marsquake.
An audio recording has been released, and three distinct sounds can be identified: the Martian wind, the robotic arms of the lander, and the marsquake. It is likely that more events will be recorded in the future.