April 26, 2019

NASA's robotic Mars InSight lander has recorded a Mars Quake for the first time ever.


  • Detection:
    • The quake was detected on 6 April by a seismometer called ‘SEIS’, which InSight had placed on the Martian surface in December 2018.

    • Gaining insights into the interior of Mars is a primary goal of the InSight mission, which landed on the planet in November 2018 and is expected to operate for at least two years.

  • Is it the first extra-terrestrial seismic activity?
    • Mars is not the first place that scientists have detected extraterrestrial seismic activity. Five seismometers operated on the Moon between 1969 and 1977 and measured thousands of “moonquakes”.

    • Like the Moon, Mars does not have tectonic plates and therefore is expected to be much quieter than Earth when it comes to seismic activity.

  • Cause: Scientists still are examining the data to determine the exact cause of the signal.
    • Scientists believe that seismic activity on Mars is related to the ongoing cooling of the interior of the planet, which is causing the planet to contract.

    • This results in the build-up of stress, which is released by a break in the crust that generates a quake. A similar process is expected to occur on the Moon.

  • Significance:
    • This is the first recorded trembling that appears to have come from inside the planet, as opposed to being caused by forces above the surface, such as wind.

    • Studying the seismology of Mars should provide important information about the interior of the planet and how it was formed.