Apr 23, 2019 - Science

NASA's InSight lander detects its first "Marsquake"

NASA's InSight lander's seismometer on Mars.

NASA's InSight lander's seismometer on Mars. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech

On April 6, NASA's InSight lander measured its first quake on Mars, a significant milestone for the spacecraft.

Why it matters: InSight was sent to Mars specifically to measure seismic activity on the Red Planet. The "Marsquake" it felt earlier this month was small, but it marks the lander's first likely detection of a quake. NASA hopes to use seismic data collected by InSight to map Mars' interior, potentially helping scientists understand how the world formed.

"We've been collecting background noise up until now, but this first event officially kicks off a new field: Martian seismology," InSight Principal Investigator Bruce Banerdt said in a statement.

Background: InSight landed on Mars in November 2018 after launching to space in May 2018. The spacecraft deployed its seismometer in December 2018, and since then, it has been keeping an ear to the ground for quakes.

  • NASA said that InSight had detected three other possible quakes, but they were even fainter than the one recorded on April 6, so their origins remain a mystery.

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