General, Research, Technology

NASA InSight's Amazing Discoveries: Seismic Activity and Martian Sky Shine

Six fascinating studies publishedin the magazines Nature Geoscience and Nature Communications detail the discoveries made with NASA's InSight, which first landed on Mars in November 2018. The news of the final confirmation of seismic activity on the Red Planet appeared in all world media. Researchers have found that the same principles as on our planet are responsible for the seismic activity of Mars. However, one study stands out for its strangeness: the InSight meteorological team was able to confirm the presence of a strange glow of the Martian night sky.

The fourth planet from the Sun is fraught with many mysteries

Marsquakes and their causes

The first signs of seismic activity on MarsThe InSight probe was received in April 2019, but it took almost a year to process them. Data collection was carried out using the SEIS tool, which consists of three detectors and is capable of detecting soil vibrations at different frequencies. The bowels of Mars turned out to be much more active than the Moon, but calmer than on our planet. According to the authors of the study, in general, Mars resembles the quiet corners of the Earth, far from zones of seismic stress and faults.

For 235 Martian days, the InSight probe recorded174 seismic events, 150 of which turned out to be high-frequency and 24 - low-frequency. Researchers believe that low-frequency seismic events are tectonic in nature. It is these 24 events that interest scientists most of all. Various waves propagate around the planet’s crust and, based on how this happens, researchers can obtain information about the geological layers of Mars, as well as determine the location of the source. According to the authors of the study, they were able to approximately determine the location of the source in 13 out of 24 events, and two of the strongest marquakes were recorded in the Cerberus ledges - these are faults and crevices located at the equator of Mars. In terms of volcanic activity, the Cerberus ledges are the youngest geological region of the Red Planet. The last eruption, researchers believe, took place about 10 million years ago.

Mars seismic activity no longer in doubt

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Wind gain on Mars has been observed since midnight anduntil morning as the colder air descends from the highlands of the southern hemisphere to the regions of the northern hemisphere, where the InSight apparatus is now located. Throughout the day, the sun's rays heat the air, resulting in convective currents. By the evening, the wind intensifies, and atmospheric pressure drops. Such favorable conditions allowed the inSight seismograph to register tectonic noise from the very bowels of the planet.

Martian whirlwinds

Another still unsolved riddle forScientists have plenty of evidence for the existence of dust devils or “whirlwinds” near the InSight landing site. However, recent observations of the apparatus have not recorded any signs of their existence. According to Vice Ban Donfield of Cornell University, who leads the InSight weather science team, researchers almost certainly imagine a lot of vortices, but for some reason they do not seem opaque or not opaque enough to be seen.

And what do you think, do Martian vortices actually exist and what are they? Share your opinion in the comments on this article, as well as with the participants of our Telegram chat

It looks like the sky on the Red Planet at night. Photo taken by InSight probe

Air glow

A series of night shots showed that in the skyThe red planet observes a luminescence called “air luminescence” caused by photochemical reactions in the sky. According to scientists, the source of the glow is not the reflection of light from the satellites of Mars, but is caused by photochemical reactions in the upper atmosphere. For a long time, researchers assumed that an air glow would appear on the Red Planet, but this was confirmed only now. The observations obtained were possible due to the many extremely sensitive meteorological instruments.