Possible 'marsquake' detected for first time on red planet

Enlarge Image This cover is designed to keep InSight's seismometer safe.                  NASA  JPL-Caltech

Enlarge Image This cover is designed to keep InSight's seismometer safe. NASA JPL-Caltech

Studying the structural makeup of the Red Planet's interior is the main scientific mission of NASA's Insight lander.

Recorded earlier this month, the Mars InSight rover discovered the "Marsquake" in what is the first ever trembling to come from the planet.

"We've been collecting background noise (on Mars) up until now, but this first event officially kicks off a new field: Martian seismology!" The team will continue to study these events to try to determine their cause.

Unlike Earth's rambunctious surface-overpowered by the seismic noise of oceans and weather, the Red Planet is extremely quiet, allowing SEIS to pick up even the faintest rumbles from within.

The InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) mission, which is managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, will provide scientists with a wealth of data.

InSight detected another three signals between 14 March and 11 April, but their origin is mired in mystery.

The quake matches up with data from similar quakes detected by NASA's Apollo missions on the moon.

"It's great to finally have a sign that there's still seismic activity on Mars", says Philippe Lognonne, a researcher at Paris' Institut de Physique du Globe.

Mars and the moon don't have tectonic plates, which is the cause of quakes on Earth; their quakes are caused by cooling and contraction, which create stress fractures on the crust.

The popular opinion among geologists is that the quakes on Mars and the Moon doesn't have to do with tectonic plates at all.

NASA's InSight probe landed on the Red Planet in November past year.

The SEIS is operated by the French space agency CNES, which reported that it had detected "a weak but distinct seismic signal" from the probe.

We're starting to have many small quakes.

InSight's goal is to use seismic monitoring and underground temperature readings to unlock mysteries about how Mars formed and, by extension, the origins of the Earth and other rocky planets of the inner solar system.

InSight's mission is to identify the quakes that take place on the planet, with the aim to build a clearer picture of Mars's interior structure. "We're looking forward to sharing detailed results once we've had a chance to analyse them". Instead, quakes on Mars are caused by faults or fractures in the crust.

SEIS has surpassed the team's expectations in terms of its sensitivity.

A number of European partners, including CNES and the German Aerospace Center (DLR), support the InSight mission. Scientists believe it to be evidence of the first Marsquake observed by mankind, but they're still digging into the data in order to confirm that notion. Spain's Centro de Astrobiología supplied the temperature and wind sensors.

Arrests at London climate-change protests top 1,000
Kohl's rolling out free Amazon return services nationwide