The InSight lander of NASA has completed the insertion of its hyper-sensitive seismometer on the surface of the Red Planet and this happened after months of delicate maneuvering. The instrument is created to unveil the mysteries about Mar’s interior by sensing the growing noise of marsquakes. Recently, just before its run, Insight lander has already sensed something different and these were the small tremors that repeatedly rock the Red Planet.
As per Philippe Lognonné, a planetary seismologist at the University of Paris Diderot, in early February, the signal for the first time became apparent when the lander placed a protective shield over the seismometer. He added that the researchers believe that these signals are waves coming from the Red Planet and this is the first time when we detected such microseisms on another planet. On our planet, such microseisms are in abundant which triggered mainly due to the splashing of the ocean by tides and storms. But Mars has no presence of oceans. This newly sensed noise is possibly due to a low-frequency pressure wave from atmospheric winds that shake the surface and are known as Rayleigh waves.
Though the InSight lander has not yet found a marsquake, the detection of the microseisms is a good sign that the Insight lander’s seismometer is working as expected. In the past few decades, seismologists have started seeing microseisms on our planet as a valuable tool for studying topographies in the subsurface. According to Lognonné, similarly the noise will be valuable on the Red Planet as well and it will allow the seismologists to analyze the stiff surface crust in the close vicinity around the Insight lander. The Insight lander has landed on a sand-filled crater which is nicknamed as “Homestead Hollow”. The deployment of the lander took a month longer than expected due to the presence of large rocks on the way.