NASA’s InSight shares two audio recordings of quakes on Mars

Brittany A. Roston - Oct 1, 2019, 4:11 pm CDT
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NASA’s InSight shares two audio recordings of quakes on Mars

NASA’s InSight lander has sent back data that produced two audio recordings of quakes taking place on Mars. The space agency refers to these as ‘peculiar’ sounds, sharing each with the public as audio files anyone can download. The data was captured with a highly sensitive instrument called the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS), which is designed to pick up on vibrations resulting from things like a breeze.

The SEIS instrument was developed specifically to detect and ‘listen’ to marsquakes, which are the Martian equivalent of earthquakes. These distant quakes produce seismic waves that are picked up by the hardware, giving researchers an idea of what invisible activity is taking place beneath the planet’s surface.

As NASA previously detailed, SEIS was installed on Mars many months ago, though it took some time before it picked up on something interesting. An ‘odd duck’ quake was detected in April by SEIS, producing a high-frequency signal unlike previous detections. Of the more than 100 ‘events’ SEIS has detected since being set down, NASA says that 21 are very likely to have been the result of marsquakes.

Of those stronger events, NASA has shared audio files of two particularly notable quakes, one named Sol 173 and the other Sol 235; they were 3.7 and 3.3 magnitude quakes, respectively. The space agency says you’ll need to put on headphones in order to adequately hear the audio.

Based on what it has detected, NASA says Mars’ crust is akin to a combination of the Moon’s and Earth’s crust; its drier nature compared to our planet’s means that sound waves caused by the activity can be scattered for tens of minutes. Quakes aren’t the only audio detected by SEIS, however — NASA has also shared clips of the InSight lander’s robotic arm moving and wind gusts.


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