ETH Zurich shows what a marsquake looks like

Shane McGlaun - Jul 23, 2019, 8:24 am CDT
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ETH Zurich shows what a marsquake looks like

One of the key scientific instruments that the InSight lander carried to the Red Planet was the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS) instrument. In April, NASA announced that the instrument might have detected its first marsquake. NASA says that quakes look and feel different depending on the material they are passing through.

Scientists at ETH Zurich have created a new video that shows the differences in how quakes would feel on the Moon, Earth, and on Mars. The team says that the marsquakes are something of a halfway between earthquakes and moonquakes. The marsquake that was detected gave up little detail on the interior of Mars because of the weak signal.

The video shows an earthquake simulator room that ETH Zurich has and in some instances uses greatly amplified waves to allow the team to see the motion at all. The signals were amplified by a factor of 10 million for the marsquakes in comparison to the similarly amplified moonquakes. Moonquakes are measured by a seismometer left by Apollo astronauts on past missions.

The earthquakes seen in the demonstration room are unamplified. The video gives a very good look at the differences in the types of quakes. While greatly amplified, the marsquakes are much more violent than earthquakes. It’s not made clear in the video, but presumably, the reason the earthquakes needed no amplification is that they were much closer to the seismometer instrument that recorded the signals.

InSight’s SEIS instrument was provided by the French space agency called Centre National d’Études Spatiales. The first marsquake than the seismometer detected was on April 6, 2019, and was thought to be very far away from the instrument. ETH Zurich researchers monitor data gathered by the seismometer.


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