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NASA has registered two “significant earthquakes” on Mars



Mars is not dead.

NASA announced on Thursday that its InSight landing party, which is investigating geological activity on Mars, recently registered “two strong, clear earthquakes” in the same region where the landing party had previously observed two significant earthquakes in 2019 – a place that looks dry. of bone and devoid of life on its surface, but may be active underground.

“The 3.3 and 3.1 magnitudes come from a region called Cerberus Fossae, which further supports the idea that this place is seismically active,” NASA wrote. The new quakes occurred on March 7 and March 18.

(They are considered relatively mild earthquakes on Earth, but are definitely a rumble that people can feel, depending on how close they are and how deep the earthquake is.)

Cerberus Fossae is an area of ​​Mars with steep riverbeds cutting through a landscape of ancient volcanic plains. There is evidence of landslides here, and the stones may have been displaced by periodic shaking.

The dome seismometer of the InSight lander, called the internal structure seismic experiment (SEIS).

The dome seismometer of the InSight lander, called the internal structure seismic experiment (SEIS).

Visible landslides on the steep slopes of Cerberus Fossae.

Visible landslides on the steep slopes of Cerberus Fossae.

Image: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Univ. of Arizona

So far, the InSight landing party has registered more than 500 earthquakes (landed in November 2018), suggesting that there may indeed be some volcanically active sites in the Martian dungeon, perhaps hot molten rock (magma) that moves and flows as on The Earth.

Underground magma may even have created underground lake planetary scientists discovered below the South Pole of Mars in 2018. “You need a heat source,” said Ali Bramson, a scientist at the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, to Mashable in 2019. “What can this heat source do?” Bramson asked. “The only thing we could really think of was an underground magma chamber that had to work recently.”

Now is the best time to record more Martian tremors. On Mars, the northern winter season can be very windy, which shakes the InSight seismometer and can make it impossible to detect earthquakes. But now the winds had died down.

“It’s great to watch the hoses once again after a long period of recording wind noise,” said John Clinton, a seismologist on the InSight team, in a statement.




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