Nasa InSight: 'Marsquake' mission in its last months - BBC
May 18, 2022 1 min, 56 secs

The seismometer on Nasa's InSight probe will keep listening for Marsquakes even as other systems on the mission have to shut down due to declining power levels.

The spacecraft has just detected a Magnitude 5 tremor - the biggest event yet in its three years of operation on the Red Planet.

The all-important seismometer can be put in a reduced working mode for a while, coming on for only part of a Martian day, or Sol, and then perhaps only every other day.

"[In July] we anticipate our seismometer to be turned off, not because we want to turn it off but unfortunately we don't have the energy to run it," said Kathya Zamora Garcia, InSight's deputy project manager at the US space agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.

The mission, which landed in a flat landscape known as Elysium Planitia in 2018, has transformed our understanding of the interior of the Red Planet.

"Whereas we know a lot about the outside of Mars - we've taken images, we've taken spectra, we've made measurements of the surface of Mars for the last 50 years - InSight's been the first mission to shine a light beneath the surface of Mars and show us what the rest of the planet looks like.".

Scientists knew that at some point Martian dust would settle on InSight's solar wings to block out the Sun's rays.

The M5 was detected on the Martian morning of 4 May.

The terrain there is heavily faulted as a result of past volcanic activity on Mars.

The vast majority of quakes on Mars likely stem from thermal anomalies in the crust.

"InSight has been an incredible mission for us, and it's given us a glimpse of Mars that we couldn't get from any other spacecraft in our Nasa Mars fleet," said Lori Glaze, the director of Nasa’s planetary science division

"Understanding Mars and studying Mars' interior structure answers key questions about the early formation of the rocky planets in our inner Solar System, including Mercury, Venus, Earth, Earth's Moon, and Mars, as well as helping us understand rocky [planets beyond our Solar System]."

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