InSight probe registers record-breaking Mars quake

(ORDO NEWS) — The seismometer detected tremors as high as five magnitudes, the most powerful of more than 1,300 marsquakes it had recorded over the years on the Martian surface.

NASA’s InSight lander landed on the Red Planet in 2018 and, unlike rovers, has remained stationary ever since. One of its main tasks is seismic monitoring using the SEIS tool.

In almost three and a half years, sensitive equipment registered more than 1300 marsquakes, including several, the epicenters of which were on the opposite side of the planet.

However, none of them can compare with the new event that was noticed on May 4, 2022, on the 1222nd Sol (Martian day) of InSight operation: the magnitude of the shocks reached 5. This was reported in a press release from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) NASA.

The previous record-breaking powerful quake was recorded in August 2021, it reached a magnitude of 4.2 on the Richter scale.

Recall that this scale is based on the logarithm of the magnitude of oscillations induced in the seismograph, so the difference in points corresponds to a tenfold increase in the power of shocks.

However, for the Earth, a shaking of magnitude 5 would be considered average and would hardly attract much attention from scientists or the public. But on Mars, with its modest size and even more modest tectonics, such values ​​are close to the theoretical maximum that experts expected to record.

InSight probe registers record breaking Mars quake 2
Marsquake spectrogram May 4, 2022

Most likely, for the Red Planet itself, such a concussion is a rarity. “Since the launch of the seismometer in December 2018, we have been waiting for this “big event,” said Bruce Banerdt, scientific director of the project.

“This quake will give a view of the planet that no event has ever given before.” Indeed, seismic waves passing through the crust, mantle and core provide invaluable information about their size, composition and structure, allowing a better understanding of the internal structure and past of the Red Planet.

InSight is unlikely to break its new record: the planned mission of the device was completed at the end of 2020, and now it is working as part of an expanded program that will end this December.

Meanwhile, the technology on board is no longer behaving as it used to be, and with the onset of the Martian winter, the dust-covered solar panels supply too little power, forcing InSight to automatically switch to a safe mode of operation.

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