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InSight on Mars. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA's InSight lander on Mars felt two relatively large quakes shake the Red Planet last month.

Why it matters: InSight uses these shakes on Mars — caused by volcanic activity — to learn more about the interior of the planet.

What they found: The two quakes, which were felt on March 7 and March 18, were magnitudes 3.3 and 3.1.

  • "It’s wonderful to once again observe marsquakes after a long period of recording wind noise," John Clinton, an InSight scientist, said in a statement. "One Martian year on, we are now much faster at characterizing seismic activity on the Red Planet."
  • The quakes seemed to come from a region called Cerberus Fossae, the same area where two other strong shakes were felt earlier in the mission.
  • The waves from all four of those relatively strong quakes traveled like quakes do on Earth — through the planet. Other shakes on Mars have been more like those seen on the Moon, which are more "scattered," according to NASA.

What's next: NASA extended InSight's mission on Mars by two years, to at least December 2022.

  • The lander will continue to listen for shakes on the planet, but the spacecraft's solar panels are covered in dust and its power is low, according to NASA.
  • The agency expects power levels to bounce back once the planet comes back toward the Sun, after July, but for now, mission managers are going to turn instruments off as needed to allow the lander to hibernate.
  • "The team hopes to keep the seismometer on for another month or two before it has to be temporarily turned off," NASA said in the statement.

Go deeper

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Apr 3, 2021 - Science

Companies race to design private space stations before ISS goes offline

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Companies are rapidly designing private space stations that could one day dominate operations in orbit around Earth.

Why it matters: NASA is hoping private industry will start to take over operations in low-Earth orbit once the International Space Station comes to an end, creating a robust commercial market in that part of space.

What we know about the victims of the Indianapolis mass shooting

Officials load a body into a vehicle at the site of the mass shooting in Indianapolis. Photo:

Eight people who were killed along with several others who were injured in a Thursday evening shooting at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis have been identified by local law enforcement.

The big picture: The Sikh Coalition said at least four of the eight victims were members of the Indianapolis Sikh community.

Pompeo, wife misused State Dept. resources, federal watchdog finds

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The State Department's independent watchdog found that former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo violated federal ethics rules when he and his wife asked department employees to perform personal tasks on more than 100 occasions, including picking up their dog and making private dinner reservations.

Why it matters: The report comes as Pompeo pours money into a new political group amid speculation about a possible 2024 presidential run.