According to the “RT” website, Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA Associate Director of Science, said on Twitter: “The Insight team and its partners have just received preliminary data from Mars about what is believed to be the largest seismic activity ever recorded on another planet (other than Earth).” . The initial estimate is that the event has a magnitude of 5 degrees, and patience is required as the teams analyze the data.
From the Earth’s perspective, an earthquake of magnitude 5 would be classified as moderate and cause only minimal damage. Such earthquakes occur on our planet half a million times a year and rarely cause serious damage. (At most, it could cause things to fall off shelves and crack windows, according to the Los Angeles Times.)
However, Mars is tectonically quieter, and a magnitude 5 earthquake is as strong as scientists had hoped when they sent InSight to the Red Planet in 2018.
“Since we put the seismometer up in December 2018, we’ve been waiting for the biggest,” Bruce Banerdt, InSight principal investigator at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California who is leading the mission, said in a statement. unparalleled.”
The team still knows very little about the previous record-breaking earthquake, the 4.2-magnitude earthquake that Insight recorded on August 25, 2021. Scientists will have to analyze the data to determine its location and source.
It is noteworthy that the “Insight” space probe landed in “Elysium Planetia”, a wide plain extending on the equator of the planet, on November 26, 2018, and it is equipped with a highly sensitive seismometer made by the French space agency CNES.
The tool allows geologists to peek into the planet’s interior by detecting and analyzing seismic waves that pass through the geological layers of Mars.
By comparing what they see on the Red Planet with what they know about the behavior of seismic waves on Earth, geologists can determine the depth and composition of these layers: the crust, mantle, and core.
During about 1,300 days on the surface of Mars, “Insight” detected more than 1,313 earthquakes. The probe’s initial mission officially ended in 2020, but NASA has continued the mission since then.
The probe is having trouble harvesting enough solar energy to continue its operations. Due to seasonal weather patterns, the amount of dust in the air has increased dramatically since the arrival of Insight, blocking out the sun.
A local dust storm in January returned the spacecraft to safe mode and raised concerns about how long the mission could last. A few days after its new discovery, on May 7, the spacecraft was again exposed to dangerously low levels of energy.