NASA’s Insight Mars lander recorded a magnitude 5 earthquake on the Red Planet last week, the largest rumble ever observed on another world.
the news arrives just a week later the lander confirmed the intensities and locations of its previous largest earthquakes. Those that occurred in August and September 2021 and were of magnitudes 4.1 and 4.2. Now they are usurped by the forceful event of May 4.
Earthquakes between magnitudes 4 and 5 are often felt, but usually only cause minor damage. according to Britannica. InSight was sent to Mars in 2018 to study the core, mantle, and crust that make up the Martian interior, as well as “marsquakes” emanating from the planet’s interior.
Since then, InSight has detected more than 1,000 earthquakes, but none as intense as the recent one, which was detected by the lander’s seismometer. Last year, InSight data gave NASA scientists the most extensive information Look inside the planet to date.
It may take some time for planetary scientists to deduce more about the origin of the recent earthquake, as was the case with last year’s sizable events. That’s because when earthquakes occur, they emit seismic waves that reflect off material inside Mars. Those reflections can reveal information about the Martian interior, but they take a while to unravel.
InSight’s tenure on the Red Planet hasn’t been all victories. After several unsuccessful attempts to get the “Mole” heat probe to dig into the Martian regolith, NASA finally gave up in the project, which was meant to be a central part of the mission. More recently, the lander’s solar panels have become covered in dust, causing caused concerns about the spacecraft’s ability to stay alive. So far, she’s still kicking around and picking up some tremendous tremors along the way.