The First Marsquake

The United Kingdom finally picked up on a Marsquake thanks to their new analytical equipment.  While Marsquakes have almost definitely been happening periodically for thousands of years, we only now are able to measure them and detect their frequencies in a way that can give us more insight into this planet.  This is especially exciting news as there’s more and more talk about turning Mars into a colony.

What is a Marsquake?

A Marsquake, as the name implies, is just like an earthquake, except that it takes place on Mars.  Mars and Earth, as it turns out, aren’t so different in terms of material makeup, which means that it’s not surprising that Mars suffers from quakes just as much as our home planet. 

How Were Space Analysts Able to See the Marsquake?

So, why were space specialists able to actually notice this quake?  Well, the United Kingdom only recently developed specialized censors to detect seismic changes in Mars’ atmosphere.  These censors are made from silicon and they’re extremely sensitive.  This means that any subtle motion can be detected very easily.  They were first installed in December of 2018 during a mission to explore the planet’s atmosphere.

Planetary quakes are measured in terms of seismic signals, as you probably know. The quake that UK researchers were able to pick up indicated that the quake was of a 2.5 or so magnitude.  That means that it was a pretty small quake.  In fact, if it were an earthquake, it would be likely that people wouldn’t feel it because of how gentle it was.  It’s also worth noting that it lasted for around ten minutes.

Now, there’s still a small possibility that it wasn’t a quake.  It could have been due to atmospheric winds, but that’s highly unlikely. 

Because of how small the quake was, researchers are a little disappointed.  A much stronger quake would have given researchers a stronger idea of the conditions of Mars.  And, initially, researchers were anticipating monthly quakes to record.  Now, because of the lack of activity, they’re starting to think they’ll only see about six to seven quakes each year.

What’s unique about Mars is that it’s lacking in plate tectonics like what we have here on Earth.  That means that quakes will never be as frequent as they are here.  However, they can be more devastating on Mars because of the structure of the planet’s materials. 

As researchers continue to develop new ways to test Mars’ atmosphere, they can gain a better understanding into the potential habitability of the planet.  This new discovery is essential because it helps us understand how safe the planet may be for inhabitants.  It’s also fascinating in that it gives us a better understanding into a planet that belongs to our solar system.

What This All Means

Thanks to this amazing equipment, space researchers are able to detect even the smallest quakes on the big red planet.  As time goes on, we anticipate learning more about how and why these quakes happen while gaining knowledge regarding the structure of the planet and how it compares to that of our own.

  • Apr 28, 2019
  • Category: Blog
  • Comments: 0
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