Dec 20, 2018 - Science

NASA's InSight lander can help detect "marsquakes"

The Mars InSight lander's seismometer deployed on the surface of Mars. Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Thanks to the Mars InSight lander, for the first time, we can now detect in near real time earthquakes on another planet. Specifically, we can now detect "marsquakes." How cool is that?

Why it matters: The deployment of the InSight lander's first science instrument onto Martian soil since the spacecraft landed on Nov. 26 marks the beginning of studies that aim to learn more about Mars' interior, in the hopes that we will learn more about how the Red Planet formed.

Details: The lander's robotic arm placed the seismometer on the ground on Dec. 19, about 5 feet away from the lander itself, according to NASA.

"The seismometer is the highest-priority instrument on InSight: We need it in order to complete about three-quarters of our science objectives."
— InSight principal investigator Bruce Banerdt in a press release.

What's next: Like earthquakes on our home planet, each marsquake helps reveal the structure of the planet's interior, by analyzing how seismic waves pass through the planet's many layers.

  • "Having the seismometer on the ground is like holding a phone up to your ear," said Philippe Lognonné, principal investigator of the seismometer instrument from Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris and Paris Diderot University, in a press release.

Go deeper: NASA's InSight lander successfully touches down on Mars

Go deeper