NASA may have just recorded the first earthquake on Mars. The recordings, which have now been released, were made by NASA’s Mars InSight lander earlier this month. They are the first of their kind and give scientists new insights into the Red Planet.
Capturing the Rumble
Mars InSight lander’s seismometer captured a series of interesting sounds on the neighboring planet. These consisted of howls, grumbles, and pings. Scientists believe that the grumbling sounds recorded may just be the sound of an earthquake on Mars or a Marsquake. This gives never-before-heard insights about the planet’s interior including its seismic activity.
The recording is around 40 seconds long and was publicly released by NASA on April 23rd after being recording about a fortnight earlier on April 6th. Listeners can hear the sound of the howling wind on Mars and then the rumbling sound of a possible Marsquake. The sound of the spacecraft’s robotic arm is also heard as a ping.
Tracking Seismic Activity on Mars
The current mission to learn more about Mars’ interior was launched in November last year with the landing of the Mars InSight lander on the planet. Unlike the planet Earth, Mars does not have the same intensity in its earthquakes. While quakes on Earth are a result of tectonic plates shifting, Marsquakes are much smaller and a result of the planet’s cooling and contracting. This makes Mars a must quieter planet. Seismic noises on Earth are also due to wind and ocean movement and activity.
Although the new recording is a valuable first, it is too short to give conclusive data and evidence about seismic activity on the Red Planet. As the Mars InSight continues its mission, scientists hope to learn more still about the size, nature, and activity of Mars’ interior. What is clear from the recording is that there is some level of seismic activity happening on Mars