Mars turns out to be a lot louder than we thought. New techniques have discovered previously undetectable earthquakes beneath Mars’ surface, with the best explanation so far being continuous volcanic activity, according to scientists.
It turns out that Mars is more famous than we were. New technologies have unveiled an unprecedented earthquake under Mars – and, scientists say, the best explanation so far is the ongoing volcanic activity.
Is Mars Really A Dead Planet?
There seems to be growing evidence that Mars is far from dead, but its host, under its dusty, deserted landscape, has a remote interior that is far from the epicenter of earthquakes.
Knowing that the Martian mantle still works is crucial to our understanding of how Mars came to be, ”says geologist Hrvoje Taklik of Australian National University in Australia.
“It would help us answer important questions about the emergence of the Solar System and the Mars’ core, mantle and its magnetic field at the moment.”
For a long time, scientists believed that not much was happening inside Mars.
Mars’ Unique Magnetic Field
The planet has a small magnetic field. The planet’s magnetic field (usually) is produced inside the planet, called the dynamo – a circulating, flexible, and electric fluid that converts kinetic energy into magnetic field, propagating the magnetic field in space.
The lack of Mars’s magnetic field indicates a lack of activity. This is a big deal; In fact, magnetic fields can mean the difference between life and death. Here on Earth, the magnetic field protects us from cosmic rays that can destroy life. On Mars, radiation levels are very high, though far from the Sun.
All life on Earth is possible because of the Earth’s magnetic field and the ability to protect itself from cosmic rays, so life as we know it would be impossible without a magnetic field,” explains Taklik.
Rumbling On Mars
But when NASA’s InSight lander arrived in November 2018 and started listening to the rhythms of Mars, we learned something really amazing: Mars is thundering. To date, InSight has found hundreds of earthquake houses – enough to give us a detailed map of the Martian interior.
Taklik and his colleague, Weijia Sun, a geologist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, wanted to look at earthquakes that were not detected in InSight data. To detect earthquake events in InSight data, they used two unusual techniques, recently used in geophysics.
Based on nine known earthquake models, the two discovered 47 new earthquakes, from the Mars region of Cerberus Fossae (a system of cracks caused by faults that tore apart the crust).
Many of those new earthquakes are similar to the catastrophic waves of the two Cerberus Fossae earthquakes that occurred in May and July 2019, suggesting that small earthquakes are related to large ones.
Reason For This Rumbling
Researchers then tried to determine the cause of the quake. Their analysis found no pattern during the earthquake, withdrawing factors such as the influence of the Martian moon Phobos.
“We have found that these earthquakes occur regularly throughout Martian’s day, and earthquakes detected and reported by NASA in the past occurred at night when the planet was silent,” Taklik said.
Therefore, we can conclude that the movement of the molten rock in the Martian basin is the cause of the 47 recent earthquakes in the region of the Serberus Fosse region.
An earlier analysis of the features of Mars on the Cerberus Fossae found that the area had recently erupted volcanic eruptions for 10 million years or more.
How Does This Study Help Scientists?
The work identified by the Sun and Taklik, which is responsible for repeated magma movements in the Mars region, also suggests that Mars is more volcanic and active than we thought. If so, the results have implications for our understanding of Mars’ history and future.
“Marsquakes are indirectly helping us to understand whether convection is taking place within the planet, and if convection, which seems to be based on our findings, something else is at play.” There must be mechanisms in place to prevent the magnetic field from growing on Mars, said Taklik.
“Understanding the magnetic field of Mars, how it came to be, and at what stage in the history of the planet, is clearly essential for future missions and is essential if scientists can one day establish human life on Mars.”