NASA is about to launch its first spacecraft to Mars from California next month to study marsquakes. The Red planet’s seismic activity has never been observed before, but the NASA scientists are certain that it exists.
After studying and acquiring knowledge about the seismic activity of the Earth, the scientists are in hope to monitor the Mars-shaking for about 2 years and study more about the internal working of the planet. Scientists also hope to learn more about the Earth’s interior by observing Mar’s subsurface and discover more secrets about its evolution.
The spacecraft, InSight lander will be taking off from Santa Barbara County’s Vandenberg Air Force Base on May 5th. As a pre-program before the launch, the NASA scientists will give a preview of the $1 billion mission at the Exploratorium in San Francisco. The exhibit will feature almost all the masterminds behind this project, the spacecraft’s mockup and several interactive displays about the planets research. The formation of all the planet of the solar system is still a mystery. The Mars, Earth and other planets are believed to be formed about 4.5 billion years ago from the same cloud of gas heat and dust. But the extremely different evolution of these planets is what raises the question. Earth being habitable and the entirely different properties of other planets.
If the mission goes well as planned, the Lander will land on Mars on a region called Elysium Planitia (which was once an active volcanic region) by the end of November. The weather will be very low, as low as -148 degree Fahrenheit. After the lander arrives, it will unfold its solar panels to power up. Within a few months, the seismometer and the heat probe will be placed on the surface of Mars by the InSights’ robotic arm. The readings observed by these instruments will be transmitted back to Earth. Mars has low seismic compared to Earth, and the scientists expect to observe only 20 to 100 earthquakes in the span of two years.
This isn’t the first time that NASA is trying to do space seismology. They have sent seismometers with the Apollo flights to the moon and have successfully detected many moonquakes. The Vikings lander which was also sent to the Mars had seismometers on it. However, since the devices were fitted on the aircraft’s top, they ended up only measuring the wind.