Quoted from The Verge, InSight landed on Mars on a mission to map the planet’s interior. The trick, InSight detects tremors from the surface.
Unlike earthquakes on Earth, earthquakes on Mars known as ‘marsquakes’ are thought to be caused by the cooling of the planet. Cooling makes Mars’ crust more brittle and cracked.
In carrying out its mission, InSight is equipped with a seismometer made in France. Since landing InSight is known to have detected more than 1,313 earthquakes.
The earthquake that InSight just detected broke the previous record for an earthquake with a magnitude of 4.2. However, the strength of the earthquake was still weaker than earthquakes on Earth.
“Since we installed our seismometers in December 2018, we have been waiting for a big earthquake. This earthquake definitely proves a new perspective on Mars,” said Bruce Banerdt, InSight’s Chief Investigator.
The detection of a magnitude 5 earthquake is a momentum for InSight. The reason is, a number of problems arose since the vehicle was first deployed.
One of the problems that arose was with an InSight instrument called The Mole. The drill-like instrument never reached the pinnacle of precision digging into Mars.
As a result, NASA is focusing InSight on general surface missions. InSight was actually retired in December 2020 and was only extended until December 2022.
(nto / fea)