NASA’s InSight Lander has just detected a “monster” quake on Mars. It is said to be the “largest-ever observed on another planet.”
The InSight Mars lander logged a magnitude 5 quake on Mars on May 4. This surpasses the previous record for the largest quake logged on the red planet, which was estimated to be a 4.2 magnitude event on Aug. 25, 2021. Even that previous record was already five times the energy produced by the previous record-holder — the magnitude 3.7 quake that was logged in 2019.
Although it doesn’t seem like such a massive quake compared to the large ones experienced here on Earth, according to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), it is actually the largest quake to ever be recorded on another planet.
The quake was “close to the upper limit” of what scientists expected to be detected by the InSight mission, JPL noted. Such quakes can help give scientists a glimpse of the formation of such “rocky worlds,” even the Earth. This is because the waves tend to change as they move through the planet’s layers, shedding light on what is below the surface.
For now, however, the team will still have to take a closer look at the recent event to learn more details about it, as well as what it can actually reveal about the red planet.
“Since we set our seismometer down in December 2018, we’ve been waiting for ‘the big one,’” Bruce Banerdt, InSight’s principal investigator at JPL, said in the news release. “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.”
Just like other NASA missions, InSight has surpassed its initial prime mission, which ended last December 2020, and is currently on an extended mission. Recently, however, it got into a bit of trouble with its solar panels as its location experiences the Martian winter, which brings more dust in the air, blocking the sunlight. The Ingenuity helicopter also faced similar issues just last week, causing a “communication dropout” between it and the Perseverance rover.
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