The American space agency NASA says its Mars lander has noticed what, according to the scientists, was the first "Marsquake" ever captured.
The Seismic Signal was measured and recorded on April 6 by NASA's InSight Lander, the space agency announced this week. InSight landed on Mars in November 2018. His goal is to explore the interior of the red planet and to measure the geological conditions .
The probable Marsquake was picked up by a special device called seismometer, which is used to measure seismic waves. The device was built by the French National Space Agency for InSight.
The seismometer was designed to be extremely sensitive. The goal is to distinguish between seismic signals from the interior of Mars and activities that come from the surface, such as wind or meteorite movements.
: "This is the first recorded tremor within the planet," said NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in a statement. The lab is based in Pasadena, California.
Scientists will continue to study the image to confirm the exact cause of the signal.
The InSight reconnaissance team has released audio of the possible Marsquake. For purposes of comparison, the sound begins with what NASA scientists say is the sound of the wind on Mars.
This is followed by an ascending tone that is thought to be the Marsquake.
Scientists say that recorded activity is a 2.5-strong earthquake on our own planet. Such a small earthquake would probably not even make itself felt on the surface of the earth. Seismic areas in the United States, such as Southern California, suffer many similarly small earthquakes every week.
But Bruce Banerdt, a JPL investigator, believes that even the small measurement represents an important new beginning. He said InSight's instrument has effectively been collecting "background noise" since landing on Mars.
"But this first event officially opens a new field: Marseismology," said Banerdt.
Philippe Lognonné is Professor of Geophysics and Planetology at the University of Paris Diderot in France. He was a senior InSight researcher. He told Reuters news agency that the results from Mars are very similar to earthquake activity measured on other planets. "We are confident that this is a Marsquake," said Lognonné. InSight would measure quakes 50 to 100 times larger in the future than on 6 April.
Earthquakes occur along errors produced by the movement of tectonic plates . Mars and the Earth's Moon have no tectonic plates, but they are still experiencing quakes.
Repeated changes in the temperature and size of the material in the planets can produce pressure over time. When this pressure becomes strong enough to break the outer crust of the planet it causes a quake.
Banerdt said that InSight's new finding is a continuation of experiments that began with the NASA's Apollo space program in the 1960s. Apollo astronauts have set five seismometers on the moon, where thousands of quakes were measured between 1969 and 1977. NASA says scientists could use this information to learn much about the interior of the moon.
Now the NASA team hopes the InSight Seismometer can provide scientists with valuable information about Mars and other planets. "By studying the deep interior of Mars, they hope to find out how other rocky worlds, including the Earth and the Moon, have formed," NASA said in a statement.
I'm Bryan Lynn Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English, based on reports from Associated Press, Reuters and NASA. Ashley Thompson was the publisher.
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Words in this story
seismic adj. in connection with an earthquake
geological – on the exploration of rocks, soil and the physical structure of the earth
Trembling – n
Confident – adj Confident about the ability to do things well
Guilt – n. a crack in the earth's crust
tectonic plates – n. plates that form the earth's surface
crust – n. hard, dry layer on the surface of something
interior – n. the inner part of something