Mars Is Alive: NASA InSight Lander Records Hundreds of Marsquakes on the Red Planet

A lot of research and data from the Mars probe shows how dynamic life is on Mars.
Fabienne Lang

Mars may appear to be without life, dry, and unwelcoming at first glimpse. However, NASA has gathered enough information from its InSight Mars Mission to prove just how dynamic the red planet truly is. 

Published in five different papers, the information was published in Nature Geoscience and Nature.

InSight lander's first 10 months on Mars

Landing on Mars on November 26, 2018, NASA's InSight lander initially had issues probing beneath Mars' surface, however, that didn't stop it from recording "marsquakes." These quakes are the equivalent of earthquakes, just on Mars. 

"We've finally, for the first time, established that Mars is a seismically active planet," Bruce Banerdt, the principal investigator for InSight, told reporters. "The seismic activity is greater than that of the moon ... but less than the Earth."

These quake recordings are integral to scientists' understanding and study of what lies beneath Mars' surface. 

Mars Is Alive: NASA InSight Lander Records Hundreds of Marsquakes on the Red Planet
Seismic activity on Mars, Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Through to September 2019, InSight recorded 174 marsquakes, with 20 that were measurable to a magnitude of three or four

As far as scientists can tell, these marsquakes are deeper than those that appear on Earth, at around 50 kilometers down (31 miles). That makes then roughly 10 times deeper than earthquakes. 


It's not only marsquakes that are shaking up the red planet. InSight has also recorded thousands of "dust devils," or wind vortices, on the surface of the planet. 

Mars Is Alive: NASA InSight Lander Records Hundreds of Marsquakes on the Red Planet
NASA Mars InSight lander. Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech

These discoveries are keeping scientists in awe of the planet. Vedran Lekic from the University of Maryland and in the InSight team, said "What is so spectacular about this data is that it gives us this beautifully poetic picture of what a day is actually like on another planet." 

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The team has yet to discover is if there is liquid magma on Mars, something we do have here on Earth. "If it turns out there is liquid magma on Mars, and if we can pinpoint where the planet is most geologically active, it might guide future missions searching for the potential for life," pointed out Nicholas Schmerr, also a University of Maryland professor on the InSight team. 

These discoveries can help scientists figure out whether or not Mars can sustain life, or if it already has in the past.

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