NASA’s InSight lander records two strong earthquakes on Mars, more than 500 to date. All you need to know

NASA’s InSight lander detected two strong and clear earthquakes on Mars last month, recording more than 500 earthquakes to date since it landed on the Red Planet in November 2018. According to mission control, the two earthquakes of magnitude 3.3 and 3.1 are native to one region. called Cerberus Fossae, the same location where two other strong earthquakes were recorded earlier in the mission. Previous severe earthquakes were of magnitude 3.6 and 3.5.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory said the earthquakes further supported the idea that Cerberus Fossae is seismically active. “InSight has recorded over 500 earthquakes to date, but due to their clear signals, these are four of the best earthquake recordings for probing the interior of the planet,” Nasa JPL said in a statement.

The InSight science team seeks to develop a better understanding of the mantle and core of Mars by studying earthquakes. Mars doesn’t have tectonic plates like Earth, but there are volcanically active regions that can shake the surface, according to the U.S. space agency.

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Taichi Kawamura of the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris in France, which helped supply InSight’s seismometer, said in a statement that the mission observed two different types of earthquakes. According to Kawamura, one type of March earthquake was more “lunar,” which tends to be widely dispersed, while the other type was more “Earth-like,” where waves travel more directly across the planet.

“Interestingly, these four largest earthquakes, which originate from Cerberus Fossae, are ‘Earth-like’,” Kawamura added, according to the Nasa JPL website.

The mission noted another common feature between the last earthquakes and the most significant seismic events that occurred almost a full Martian year ago – all of them occurred during the northern Martian summer. Scientists had predicted that the northern Martian summer, when the winds became calmer, would be a great time to listen to earthquakes because the wind causes enough vibration to obscure some earthquakes.

The mission team began trying to partially insulate the cable, which connects the seismometer to the lander, from extreme temperature variations. The shovel at the end of InSight’s robotic arm is used to deposit soil on top of the domed wind and heat shield which then spreads over the cable.