NASA released on its website on Thursday (1) that the InSight probe, which has been exploring the planet Mars for almost two years, has detected strong and clear signals from two earthquakes in the region known as Cerberus Fossae, a set of semi-parallel cracks formed by faults . The intensity of the tremors was 3.3 and 3.1, which occurred on March 7 and 18, respectively.
The InSight science team has recorded more than 500 earthquakes, later called “earthquakes”. Monitoring this activity helps to better understand the mantle and core of the red planet. Although Mars does not have tectonic plates, like Earth, it does have volcanically active regions, which can cause bangs.
According to Taichi Kawamura, a researcher at the Institut de Physique du Globe in France, who helped supply the InSight seismometer, there are two different types of tidal waves, those similar to those on the Moon and others similar to those on Earth. The former have dispersed waves and the terrestrial ones are more concentrated in the interior of the planet.
The tidal waves
The last four major occurrences of earthquakes, including those that occurred in March, which originated in Cerberus Fossae, repeat the earthly pattern, according to Kawamura. This reinforces the theory that this region is an important center of seismic activity on Mars.
In addition to the coincidence of the location, the new earthquakes have another point in common with InSight’s previous seismic events, which took place a Martian year (two Earth years): they all happened during the summer in the north of the planet. Scientists had already predicted the current tidal waves as soon as the winds became calmer.
During the winter, the opposite happens, with strong winds and no seismic activity detected by InSight. The seismometer, called SEIS, which stands for Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure, is sensitive enough that, even covered by a shield dome to protect it from the wind, it can detect tidal waves, although some can be masked by currents. air.
At the present time, in addition to the winds shaking the seismometer, InSight’s solar panels are covered with dust. The situation will only improve after July, when the red planet approaches the Sun again. Until then, the mission will disconnect the instruments from the landing module so that InSight can hibernate.