NASA’s InSight on Mars has revealed its three most powerful earthquakes to date, giving scientists an even clearer view of the Red Planet’s interior.
InSight noticed 4.2 and 4.1 magnitude tremors on August 25, then caught another approximately 4.2 magnitude earthquake on September 18 that lasted for nearly 90 minutes.
Despite their differences, the two August earthquakes have something in common but great: Both occurred during the day, the windiest time – and, for a seismometer, the loudest – on Mars. The InSight seismometer usually detects earthquakes at night, when the planet is cold and the winds are low. But the signals from these earthquakes were so great that they rose above any noise caused by the wind.
InSight landed near the Martian equator in November 2018, charged with investigating the planet’s interior like never before. InSight has detected more than 700 earthquakes in total, and they have discovered a lot about the interior of the planet already. Scientists have learned that the crust of Mars is thinner than they thought and that it is more like the crust of the moon than the Earth and has been disintegrated by asteroid strikes.
Because the Martian crust is very dry and rugged, its earthquakes last much longer than earthquakes. They echo between cracks in the crust, and there is not enough moisture to absorb them. So the earthquakes that InSight has felt have usually lasted 10 to 40 minutes.
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