Earthquakes are common on our planet, and they can be large, with devastating consequences. The planet closest to the sun, Mars, also has earthquakes, which we’ve seen as milder so far. NASAs Insight lander has been record marsquakes since it crashed on Mars in 2018. So far, the tremors have been calm, until magnitude 4.2† But on May 4, 2022 – the 1,222nd Sol (Mars Day) from the InSight mission – the lander felt its largest marsquake to date, with a record magnitude of 5.0. It’s not just the largest marsquake. It is the largest quake detected on another planet to date.
On Earth, magnitude 5.0 is a medium-sized earthquake. On Mars, however, it is near what scientists say is the upper limit for earthquake strength.
Since we put down our seismometer in December 2018, we’ve been waiting for ‘the big one’. This earthquake will certainly provide you with a view of the planet like no other. Scientists will analyze this data to learn new things about Mars in the coming years.
as NASA tweeted on May 9:
did you feel it??
After more than three years of listening to Mars’ soft rumble, I felt by far my largest “Marsquake” yet: It appears to be about magnitude 5. My team is studying the data to learn more. Science rewards patience!
— NASA InSight (@NASAInSight) May 9, 2022
At this time, scientists are still determining the exact location of the earthquake and how it occurred. Mars has no active plate tectonics as Earth does, but in recent years there has been mounting evidence that the planet is still geologically active below the surface. Indeed, the last major earthquake proves that Mars still “rocks” today.
New marsquake is the newest of many
Indeed, InSight has recorded no fewer than 1,313 Marsquakes to date. Previously, the largest quake detected was on August 25, 2021 with a magnitude of 4.2.
Scientists suspected Mars was still rumbling a bit beneath the surface, but InSight is the first mission to confirm this.
How many more times will InSight feel the Martian underground tremble?
A dusty problem
Overall, InSight’s mission has been incredibly successful, since it landed in Elysium Planitia on November 26, 2018. (Apart from the frustrating issues with his “wart” heat probe instrument.) At the moment, however, it faces some new challenges. There is now much more dust in the air of Mars, which affects the solar panels of the lander. On May 7, the power of the solar panels even dropped below the safe mode limit. In safe mode, only the most necessary functions of the rover will still work. As with safe mode on other spacecraft, this helps to protect the lander until the power level rises again. It is a kind of temporary hibernation.
InSight also went into safe mode last January and later exited safe mode after a dust storm stirred up large amounts of dust. Hopefully InSight will be back to normal this time as well!
NASA will provide a update media conference on the status of InSight on Tuesday, May 17, 2022 at 2:00 PM EDT (11:00 AM PDT).
The InSight mission has two main goals. The first is to understand the formation and evolution of terrestrial planets through research into the internal structure and processes of Mars. The other primary goal is to determine the current level of tectonic activity and meteorite impact velocity on Mars. InSight has already provided unprecedented insight in the geological history of Mars and potential habitability.
Bottom Line: NASA’s InSight lander has just detected the largest Marsquake yet in its mission. Insight felt “the big one,” a record 5.0, on May 4, 2022.
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