NASA Lander InSight on Mars discovered two more strong earthquakes on the Red Planet, both occurring in the same region where the mission’s previous best observations were made.
The robotic geophysicist landed on Mars in November 2018, and after months of preparation, his seismometer began to detect the so-called “earthquakes… “The mission has identified more than 500 earthquakes in the first Martian year, but lately, strong winds have not given a clear signal that scientists need to detect small wobbles on the Red Planet. Now the weather has changed, and in March, mission personnel detected two earthquakes with a magnitude of 3.0.
“It’s great to see earthquakes again after a long period of wind noise recording,” said John Clinton, seismologist who leads the Marsquake Service InSight at ETH Zurich. said in a statement… “After a year on Mars, we determined the seismic activity on the Red Planet much faster.”
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Two new earthquakes discovered by InSight on March 7 and 18 occurred in a region called Cerberus Fossae. This is the same area where two strongest earthquakes InSight, discovered in the first Martian year, also took place, suggesting that the area is particularly active from a seismic point of view.
Scientists are especially intrigued because, according to NASA, the four earthquakes also coincide from a geophysical point of view. “During the mission, we saw two different types of earthquakes: One is more “like the moon” and the other is more “earthy,” said Taichi Kawamura, a seismologist at the French Institute of Physics of the Earth, in a statement. earthquakes from Cerberus Fossae are “Earth-like.”
Meanwhile, the lander is also working on a task that scientists hope will improve the quality of observations of marching earthquakes as the mission continues for another Martian year (which lasts about 687 Earth days). Mission personnel suspect huge temperature differences between day and night on Mars could create “popping sounds and bursts” in seismometer data as the cable connecting the instrument to the main lander expands and contracts.
To protect the cable from these changes, the InSight team uses the lander’s robotic arm to scoop Martian soil onto the cable.
However, NASA warns that these are tough times for the solar-powered lander. Worst harsh on the planet dust storm season ended, but the InSight panels are still covered in dust despite the strong wind in the area. At the same time, the Red Planet is moving away from the Sun in its elliptical orbit, which reduces energy production. And it’s winter near the lander, which means that low temperatures threaten the robot’s electronics.
Given the conditions, the mission team expects that the lander and its instruments will need to be briefly hibernated later this spring to deal with this power shortage. In July, the orbit of Mars will begin to return it to the Sun and reduce the load on the InSight systems.
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