Tectonic activity on the surface of Mars. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

Mars shakes with quakes more often than scientists initially expected, according to a new series of studies using data from NASA's InSight lander published this week.

Why it matters: Mars looks like a cold, dead world, but its geology is complicated. The InSight lander, which has been studying the Red Planet from its surface since 2018, is giving scientists a fuller picture of the rusty world.

Details: According to NASA, InSight has recorded more than 450 signals from seismic activity so far, with the largest quake measuring in at about 4.0 magnitude.

  • At the end of 2019, InSight was, on average, measuring seismic signals twice per day, according to the agency.
  • The new research shows two relatively strong marsquakes were tracked to the Cerberus Fossae region, where scientists found volcanic activity that may have been responsible for the shakes.
"If you just take a simple model of Mars, you wouldn't expect it to be hot enough inside to be producing magma. So, what it says is that there's probably some variability at depth that the source of which is not obvious at the surface."
— Suzanne Smrekar, an author of the new study, said during a press conference

Be smart: Mars doesn't have plate tectonics the way Earth does. Instead, these quakes are likely caused by volcanic regions shaking the world or the cooling and contracting of the planet itself.

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The Sun wakes up

Photo: NASA/Solar Dynamics Observatory/Joy Ng

The Sun unleashed a strong solar flare last week for the first time since 2017, potentially signaling that our nearest star's activity is ramping up after a long period of quiescence.

Why it matters: Strong solar flares can harm satellites and people in space, while the most extreme flares could take down Earth's electrical grids.

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Why it's hard to form planets in the middle of a star cluster

Photo: NASA/ESA/STScI/Aura/Westerlund 2 Science Team

Scientists think most stars in our galaxy play host to planets, but 20,000 light-years away, a dense cluster of stars is proving to be the exception to that rule.

Why it matters: New research from scientists using the Hubble Space Telescope found the core of the star cluster Westerlund 2 is inhospitable to newly forming planets.

Cerberus sells control of Steward Health Care back to company

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Cerberus Capital Management has agreed to sell control of community hospital group Steward Health Care back to the company, as first reported by the New York Times and confirmed by Axios.

Why it matters: This would make Steward one of the country's largest physician-owned and operated companies. It also marks the end of a 10-year ownership period for Cerberus, which was most recently marked by threats to shutter a Pennsylvania hospital in March, despite the pandemic, if the facility didn't receive state bailout funds.