NASA’s InSight lander, which landed on Mars in November last year seems to have detected ‘seismic activity’, suggesting the probable existence of ‘marsquakes’ on the red planet. The faint rumble, which is estimated way too small by earth standards was picked up by the probe’s sensors on 6 April – the 128th Martian day, or sol, of the mission.
Scientists confirmed the tremor, and shared the following tweet:
Mars, I hear you. I’ve detected some quiet but distinct shaking on #Mars. The faint rumbles appear to have come from the inside of the planet, and are still being studied by my team. Take a listen.👂https://t.co/GxR1xdRx1F pic.twitter.com/Z8Hn03jigO
— NASA InSight (@NASAInSight) April 23, 2019
InSight’s seismometer system incorporates French (low-frequency) and British (high-frequency) sensors. Known as the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS), this instrument was lifted on to the Martian surface by the probe’s robotic arm on 20 December.
The team is investigating three other signals picked up only by the low-frequency sensors – on 14 March (Sol 105), 10 April (Sol 132) and 11 April (Sol 133). However, these were even smaller than the Sol 128 event, and the InSight scientists do not have the confidence yet to claim them as real seismic events.
The data will continue to be studied so that scientists can be sure of the signal’s origin.