NASA InSight lander registers the largest tremor to have ever struck Mars, scientists say

NASA’s InSight Mars Lander has recorded its largest tremor to date on Mars.

According to new research published in the American Geophysical Union’s (AGU) journal Geophysical Research Letters, the international team said the lander’s seismometer detected a tremor on the Earth night of May 4 that was at least five times stronger the next largest recorded on the red planet.

“This was definitely the largest marsquake we’ve ever seen,” said Taichi Kawamura, lead author and planetary scientist at the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, France, in a press release.

Co-author and seismologist John Clinton of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich said that the energy released by the single marsquake is equal to the cumulative energy of all other marsquakes observed so far.

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Clinton, who is co-leader of the Marsquake service with Kawamura, said the waves recorded at InSight were so large they nearly saturated the seismometer.

A view of Mars from NASA's Mars InSight Lander.

A view of Mars from NASA’s Mars InSight Lander.
(NASA/Twitter)

The Marsquake waves last about 10 hours.

Waves from a previous Marsquake had lasted no more than an hour.

The previously largest quake recorded in August 2021 had a magnitude of about 4.2, while the May quake had a magnitude of 4.7.

The epicenter of the quake was outside the most seismically active region on Mars.

This seismic event was also rare in that it had characteristics of both high- and low-frequency earthquakes.

The domed seismometer on NASA's InSight Lander has measured the strongest tremor on Mars.

The domed seismometer on NASA’s InSight Lander has measured the strongest tremor on Mars.
(NASA/JPL-Caltech.)

Data from this major quake was released in October by the Mars Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS) data service, NASA Planetary Data System (PDS) and the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS), along with the Marsquake service catalogue.

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Seismology on Mars can help researchers better understand what lies beneath its surface and how it is evolving.

It is believed that most marsquakes occur due to fault movement.

This image shows InSight's domed wind and heat shield covering its seismometer, called the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure, or SEIS.

This image shows InSight’s domed wind and heat shield covering its seismometer, called the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure, or SEIS.
(NASA/JPL-Caltech)

InSight is believed to be nearing its end of service as dust has increasingly covered its solar panels and reduced its performance.

“We are impressed that we had this very remarkable event near the end of the extended mission,” said Kawamura.

Based on the data collected from the Marquake, “I would say that this mission was an extraordinary success,” he continued.

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“My power is really low so this might be the last picture I can send. Don’t worry about me though: my time here has been both productive and quiet. If I can continue to speak to my mission team, I will – but I’ll be signing off here soon,” Insight’s 25-30 person team posted on the lander’s Twitter on Monday. “Thanks for staying with me. “

Since landing in November 2018, the lander has provided insights into the liquid core of Mars and the composition of its other inner layers. It has registered hundreds of tremors.

Fox News’ Paul Best contributed to this report.

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