(ORDO NEWS) — New research methods have revealed previously unnoticed earthquakes under the Martian surface, and scientists say the best explanation so far is ongoing volcanic activity.
It seems that there is more and more evidence that Mars is far from being such a dead world as we used to think of it – seismic processes are seething under the lifeless crust.
For a long time, scientists believed that nothing special happened inside Mars.
The planet has a very weak magnetic field. Planetary magnetic fields are (usually) generated inside the planet by a phenomenon called a “dynamo” – a rotating, convective and electrically conductive fluid that converts kinetic energy into magnetic energy, spinning the magnetic field outward.
The lack of a magnetic field on Mars suggests a lack of activity within the planet. This is important because a planet’s magnetic field can literally mean the difference between life and death for all beings on its surface.
On Earth, the magnetic field protects us from cosmic radiation, which can destroy all life. For example, on Mars, the level of radiation is much higher, although it is farther from the Sun.
But when NASA‘s InSight lander arrived in November 2018 and began listening to the heartbeat of Mars, we learned something really unusual: a rumble is heard inside the planet. To date, InSight has detected hundreds of quakes, enough to give us a detailed map of the Martian interior.
Marsquakes and their consequences
Scientists recently discovered 47 new seismic events originating from a region on Mars called the Cerberus pits, a system of cracks created by faults that tore apart the crust.
The wave profile of these quakes is similar to the profile of two much larger ones that occurred in May and July 2019. Scientists see a connection between them, and are currently trying to determine the exact cause of the tremors.
The analysis showed that there was no regularity in the timing of earthquakes, which excludes such reasons as, for example, the influence of the Martian satellite Phobos.
“We found that these quakes have repeatedly occurred at any time of the Martian day, while the quakes detected and recorded by NASA in the past seem to have occurred only in the dead of night, when the planet is calmer,” the researchers note.
Scientists also pay attention to the fact that if Mars, as a planet, is still geologically active, then the disappearance of its magnetic field must have other, no less compelling reasons. If they can be calculated, then such a discovery may eventually solve the mystery of life on the Red Planet – it remains only to wait for news.
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