NASA’s InSight Detects Marsquakes, But They’re Caused By Atmospheric Winds

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NASA’s InSight lander has reached the surface of the Red Planet last year and has just recently begun using the special seismometer to listen for “marsquakes.”

The tool will be able to observe seismic activities on Mars and find out if it’s still geologically active.

InSight hasn’t yet registered marsquakes with a magnitude of what we have on Earth, but according to Philippe Lognonné, who is a planetary seismologist (Paris Diderot University), the lander detected some signals known as “microseisms”:

We do believe that these signals are waves coming from Mars.

On Earth, oceans, storms or tides cause microseisms. In an interview with Science Magazine, the seismologist stated that the noise detected by the lander’s seismometer is actually the result of low-frequency pressure waves caused by atmospheric winds.

NASA’s InSight also has other instruments that will deliver more information about the planet: the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3) instrument that will read the heat underground by burrowing almost 16 feet under the Martian surface.

InSight Giving People “the Sense of Visiting an Alien Place”

However, the HP3 had a few issues at the beginning of this month, delaying the mission.

Before that, in February, InSight also sent data about Mars, reporting on the weather. Scientists have been able to get “the sense of visiting an alien place,” as Don Banfield said in a statement on NASA’s official website. Cornell University’s Banfield, InSight’s weather science lead, added that “Mars has familiar atmospheric phenomena that are still quite different than those on Earth.”

According to NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, this mission will reveal more details about not just the surface and the weather on Mars, but also what happens underground:

InSight will study the interior of Mars and will teach us valuable science as we prepare to send astronauts to the Moon and later to Mars. The best of NASA is yet to come, and it is coming soon.

The lander will continue its work to help us learn more about Mars and the history of our solar system.