Apr 23, 2019

NASA's InSight lander detects its first "Marsquake"

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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Supreme Court to hear Philadelphia case over same-sex foster parents

Photo: Daniel Slim/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court agreed Monday to hear a high-profile case that could reshape the bounds of First Amendment protections for religion.

Why it matters: The direct question in this case is whether Philadelphia had the right to cancel a contract with an adoption agency that refused to place foster children with same-sex couples. It also poses bigger questions that could lead the court to overturn a key precedent and carve out new protections for religious organizations.

Why Apple may move to open iOS

Photo illustration: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Apple may finally allow iPhone owners to set email or browsing apps other than Apple's own as their preferred defaults, according to a Bloomberg report from last week.

The big picture: Customers have long clamored for the ability to choose their preferred apps, and now Apple, like other big tech companies, finds itself under increased scrutiny over anything perceived as anticompetitive.