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NASA’s InSight Mars lander has detected the largest quake ever observed on another planet.
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The estimated magnitude 5 tremor occurred on May 4, 2022.
As seismic waves pass through or reflect off material in Mars’s crust, mantle and core, they change.
Scientists will need to study further before being able to determine its location and the nature of its source.
InSight has detected more than 1,313 quakes since landing on the red planet in November 2018.
NASA said that the largest previously recorded quake was an estimated magnitude of 4.2 and was detected on Aug. 25, 2021.
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A magnitude 5 quake is a medium-size quake compared to those on Earth, but it is close to the upper limit of what scientists hoped to see on the mission.
“Since we set our seismometer down in December 2018, we’ve been waiting for ‘the big one,’” Bruce Banerdt, InSight’s principal investigator at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California, said in a statement. “This quake is sure to provide a view into the planet like no other. Scientists will be analyzing this data to learn new things about Mars for years to come.”
JPL leads the mission.
The lander was sent to Mars with a highly sensitive seismometer – provided by France’s Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES) – to study the deep interior of the planet.
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The mission has been extended through December 2022.