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NASA’s InSight Mars lander has detected the largest earthquake ever observed on another planet.
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The estimated magnitude 5 tremor occurred on May 4, 2022.
As seismic waves pass through or reflect off material in the crust, mantle, and core of Mars, they change.
Scientists will need to study further before they can determine its location and the nature of its origin.
InSight has detected more than 1,313 earthquakes since landing on the Red Planet in November 2018.
NASA said the largest previously recorded earthquake had an estimated magnitude of 4.2 and was detected on August 25, 2021.
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A magnitude 5 earthquake is a medium-sized earthquake compared to those on Earth, but it’s near the upper limit of what scientists expected to see on the mission.
“Since we installed our seismometer in December 2018, we’ve been waiting for ‘the big one,'” Bruce Banerdt, InSight principal investigator at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California, said in a statement. “This earthquake is sure to provide a view of the planet like no other. Scientists will analyze this data to learn new things about Mars for years to come.”
JPL leads the mission.
The lander was sent to Mars with a highly sensitive seismometer, provided by France’s Center National d’Études Spatiales (CNES), to study the planet’s deep interior.
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The mission has been extended until December 2022.