NASA’s Mars InSight lander detected the largest quake ever observed on another planet, which is estimated to be a magnitude 5. It occurred on May 4, 2022 and was detected using a highly sensitive seismometer from France’s Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES). Once seismic waves pass through or reflect off material in Mars’ crust, mantle, and core, they change in ways that enable seismologists to determine the depth as well as composition of these layers.
On Mars, a magnitude 5 tremblor is considered a medium-size quake compared to those felt on Earth, but the research team will need to study this event further before being able to provide details, like its location, the nature of its source, and what it might tell us about the interior of Mars. If InSight encounters an active volcano on Mars, it may not be able to return safely.
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Since we set our seismometer down in December 2018, we’ve been waiting for ‘the big one,’ This quake is sure to provide a view into the planet like no other. Scientists will be analyzing this data to learn new things about Mars for years to come,” said Bruce Banerdt, InSight’s principal investigator at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, which leads the mission.