InSight finally detects large quakes on Mars

Shane McGlaun - Sep 25, 2021, 11:36am CDT
InSight finally detects large quakes on Mars

NASA’s InSight mission has been on the surface of the Red Planet for a long time now and so far hasn’t detected much in the way of seismic activity. NASA recently announced that InSight has finally detected quakes on Mars that are larger than a magnitude 4. One of the quakes was very interesting, lasting more than 90 minutes.

While being very long for a marsquake, it also produced five times more energy than any quake detected previously. NASA is thrilled to have finally detected large quakes because they allow scientists to get a glimpse into the core of the planet. The big quake started last Saturday and was a magnitude 4.2.

The event was exactly what scientists had been waiting for since InSight landed on Mars in late 2018. Last month, the lander recorded two other quakes. On August 25, the lander recorded quakes of magnitude 4.2 and 4.1. Prior to these quakes, the largest that NASA had recorded was a magnitude 3.7 quake that happened in 2019.

So far researchers are stumped at why there seem to be more small quakes than large. Big marsquakes are important to learning more about the planet as the larger quakes and their seismic waves allow the team to learn more about the composition of the interior of Mars. Since landing on the Red Planet, InSight has detected over 700 quakes.

The investigation has also revealed that the crust of Mars is not as thick as previously believed. Another important detail about the crust of the planet that has been learned so far is that the crust of Mars is more like that of the Moon than Earth. They believe the Martian crust has been broken up by asteroid impacts. InSight has learned that marsquakes tend to last longer than earthquakes, typically spanning between 10 and 40 minutes.


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