Mysterious rumble from inside Mars discovered by NASA lander Science & Tech News
NASA scientists have reported an exciting discovery from their Insight Lander on Mars – mysterious rumbling noises from inside the planet.
The researchers believe that the seismic events may be caused by a sudden release of energy from inside the planet, but the nature of that release remains unknown and puzzling.
Interestingly, the new rumble is believed to have originated in a location on Mars called Cerberus Fossae two other previous candidate events should have originated.
Although these rumblings have sometimes been referred to as “Marsquakes,” the planet is not believed to have a similar active tectonic system as Earth’s that causes earthquakes.
And, oddly enough, the previous seismic events detected by the Space Agency’s InSight lander – which ones arrived on the surface of the planet in 2018 – occurred almost a full Martian year or two Earth years ago during the northern Mars summer.
Scientists had predicted that this time of year would be the best opportunity for the lander to listen for quakes as the winds on the planet would calm down.
InSight’s seismometer, known as the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS), is so delicate that it has to be covered by a dome-shaped shield to protect it from the wind and prevent it from freezing during use.
Even so, the wind can still cause enough vibration to mask the seismic signals sought. So the NASA team started to isolate the delicate cable.
To do this, the team used the shovel at the end of the InSight robotic arm to move the soil on the dome-shaped shield and let it drip onto the cable.
The intent is to bring the floor as close as possible to the sign without compromising its seal with the floor.
Burying the seismic line itself is one of the goals of the next phase of the mission, which NASA recently extended for two years to December 2022.
But despite the disruption the wind creates for InSight’s seismometer, it doesn’t really give the lander’s solar panels, which remain covered in dust, a big hand.
Energy is now running low as Mars moves away from the Sun, although energy levels are expected to increase after July when the planet approaches the Sun again.
Until then, the team will turn off InSight’s instruments one at a time so it can go to sleep. It just wakes up regularly to check its own health and sends a message back to earth.
NASA said the team hoped to keep the seismometer on for a month or two before it needs to be turned off.