in Space

UK sensors detect 400 Marsquakes in one year

Posted 26 February 2020 · Add Comment

The NASA InSight lander, which is supported by the UK Space Agency, has recorded 400 likely ‘Marsquakes’ in the first year of its mission.



Above:
An artist's impression of the NASA InSight lander on Mars.
Courtesy NASA-Jet Propulsion Laboratory-Caltech


The seismic vibrations on Mars were detected by a set of silicon sensors developed in the UK for InSight’s Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS).

Imperial College London, Oxford University, University of Bristol and STFC RAL Space worked in partnership, with £4 million in funding from the UK Space Agency, to develop three sensors which are sensitive enough to detect motion at sub-atomic scales.

Science Minister Amanda Solloway said: "Detecting hundreds of Marsquakes on a planet 140 million miles from Earth, using sensors developed in the UK, is an important achievement.

"This is an example of how world-leading UK science and our growing space sector contribute to international missions, furthering human understanding of the Solar System."

The NASA Insight mission is the first to look deep beneath the Martian surface and detected the first ever recorded Marsquake on 6 April 2019. By the end of last year it was detecting an average of two quakes every day. The findings suggest that Mars experiences quakes more often, but also more mildly than expected with the largest measuring 4.0 on the Richter scale.

Seismic waves change as they move through different materials and this allows scientists to understand the inner structure of Mars. From this, they can also learn how other planets, moons and meteorites with rocky surfaces, including Earth, formed billions of years ago.

Professor Tom Pike, from Imperial College London, who leads the UK team, said: "From the tremors, we can build a picture of Mars’ interior, building up a cross section of the planet all the way down to the core. The remains of a liquid core could suggest that Mars once had a magnetic field. Like on Earth, the field would have protected it from harmful solar winds billions of years ago. Back then, Mars then was much warmer and wetter, and much more hospitable for life.

"Studying Mars lets us travel to the solar system’s ancient past. While Earth and Venus’ tectonic systems have destroyed most of the evidence of their early history, much of the Red Planet has remained static for more than three billion years."

Dr Neil Bowles, from the University of Oxford’s Department of Physics, said: "The measurement of the first events from the surface of Mars by InSight are showing that the planet is still seismically active. As InSight continues to monitor the planet over the next year, we are working with our colleagues on the mission team to help understand the interior and atmosphere of the planet in a completely new way."

Dr Anna Horleston, Research Associate in Planetary Seismology at the University of Bristol, said: "The UK’s involvement in InSight has given us a unique opportunity at the forefront of planetary science. Working for the frontline analysis team for the Marsquake Service, I’ve witnessed the quakes on a daily basis and I’m very pleased that we can share the results with the public today. Seeing seismic signals from another planet and using them to look inside it is an amazing experience."

InSight carries other instruments to measure the Martian wind, magnetic field and temperature. Scientists set out the findings from the mission in a series of six papers published on Monday in Nature Geoscience and Nature Communications .

 

 

* required field

Post a comment

Other Stories
Advertisement
Latest News

UK Space Agency backs Covid-19 testing kit drones deliveries

Drones delivering Covid-19 test kits and a mobile app that uses space-derived data to identify and support vulnerable or elderly people who may be suffering from poverty or loneliness, are among the projects that have been backed by new

Hardide Coatings appoints Rob Holmes as VP Aerospace

Advanced surface coating technology company, Bicester based Hardide Coatings, has appointed Rob Holmes as VP Aerospace as the company targets strategic growth in the aerospace and defence sectors.

Aerospace fuel expert celebrates centenary with student lecture

Dr Eric Goodger, a Cranfield University lecturer for many years following his career as a Cranfield academic, will celebrate his 100th birthday this week with a lecture on his favourite topic, fuels and combustion.

Uncoordinated measures restrict reopening of EU borders

A4E and ACI EUROPE, representing Europe’s airlines and airports, are urging EU and Schengen States to do away with politics and follow their agreed, fact-based approach towards lifting the ban on non-essential travel to the EU &

IATA wants post-COVID-19 green recovery to embrace SAF

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) emphasised the aviation industry’s commitment to its emissions reduction goals and called for the International Energy Agency (IEA) to prioritise investment in sustainable

UK Space Agency, ESA and DCMS seek 5G logistics support solutions

The UK Space Agency, European Space Agency (ESA) and DCMS have joined forces to invite companies to submit ideas for how they can use 5G terrestrial and space technology to support the UK’s logistics businesses – from rail to ports, from

Getac SK0707210720
See us at
DVD 2020