A new research reveals over 50 previously unknown marsquakes, indicating that Mars has more going on under its crimson surface than we imagined.
In a year’s worth of data from NASA’s InSight Mars Lander, which has been collecting the planet’s interior gurgles and grumbles since 2019, a pair of geophysicists discovered traces of 47 earthquakes.
The study was published in the journal Nature Communications.
If the new-found quakes are confirmed, study co-author Hrvoje Tkali of the Australian National University (ANU) believes that this type of work could aid the currently mostly manual process of sifting through data for signs of marsquakes, and provide planetary scientists with clues as to their origins.
“Their recurrence is suggestive of a volcanic activity involving magma movement, or, as we suspect, some type of deep depressurization,” he added.
Katarina Miljkovic, a planetary scientist at Curtin University who is engaged with the InSight project but not the current research, calls the scientific community’s interest in the lander’s marsquake data “wonderful.”
“Different methods of signal processing may yield different results and makes it a great place to expand on our scientific understanding of the Martian subsurface.”
InSight’s marsquake sensor, or seismometer, is like a stethoscope of sorts, listening to Mars’s (granted, irregular) geological pulse.
Professor Tkali claims that the newly discovered marsquakes’ repetitive nature not only suggests they’re replicas of the two major “parent” marsquakes, but also provides clues to their origin.
“It suggests that volcanic activity is the most likely cause. And that’s what’s so intriguing about it: active volcanism means that the Martian mantle is mobile.”
This form of volcanism presumably isn’t the kind we generally see on Earth, when red hot magma oozes or shoots out and rolls around the surface as lava.