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Planetary insight NASA probe detects possible ‘Marsquake’

NASA probe on Mars

Photo of the seismometer on board the NASA Mars probe

(NASA)

A NASA probe exploring the rock structure of Mars using technology partly developed by Swiss scientists has transmitted signals back to Earth that resemble tremors, it has been reported.

The Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich) said on Wednesdayexternal link that the InSight NASA probe, which landed on Mars last November, had transmitted a series of “promising signals” from Mars to Earth.

“Researchers have interpreted a seismic event that reached Earth on April 6, 2019 as a possible Marsquake”, ETH Zurich said. A seismometer developed by the federal institute is onboard the unmanned NASA probe.

ETH Zurich said the signal supported the assumption that Mars is seismically active, but added that the signals are too quiet to give any idea of the inner geological structure of the planet beneath the crust.

This particular signal appears to have come from within the planet, but it is unclear what caused the quake. To the surprise of scientists, the seismic activity of Mars had more in common with a tremor on the moon rather than on Earth. 

InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) is the first mission dedicated to studying the rock structure of Mars. It is due to last two years – one Martian year – and aims to improve understanding of how rocky planets including Earth are formed and develop.

Space mission Swiss electronics to take Mars’ pulse

Now Zurich researchers will be analysing the data collected from the mysterious planet's interior.

ETH Zurich/sb

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