Mars is a planet that is constantly trembling with seismic activity, and the magnetic fields are stronger than experts originally predicted. NASA has sent out the Mars Lander InSight on a mission to explore Mars’s rocky terrain.
A set of studies were published on Monday in the journals Nature Geoscience, and Nature Communications describe the findings of the first ten months that the robot spent there.
InSight made its touchdown in November 2018, apparently after going through “seven minutes of terror”- the descent, a time when the mission control can’t do anything but wait when the lander met the Martian atmosphere to when it landed on Mars’s surface.
It landed on a plain called Elysium Planitia, which was on a dirt-filled crater nicknamed Homestead Hollow.
In April 2019, InSight detected its first seismic activity, known as a marsquake. By the end of September 2019, a total of 174 such activities were recorded. Twenty-four of those came from Mars’s mantle and were larger than the others, between 3 to 4 on the moment magnitude scale.
Then there are the magnetic fields on Mars. InSight showed that the magnetic fields were ten times stronger than scientists predicted. Martian explorers won’t be able to use a compass to find their way.
Due to this, Mars does not have a magnetic north or south anymore. When Mars was still young, it’s liquid metal interior generated a global magnetic field, similar to Earth’s. However, the inner Martian dynamo stopped about 3.5 billion years ago, and hence lost its planet-wide magnetic field became what we see today.
InSight was able to sense thousands of pressure changes that were strong enough to pick up dust, which produced small whirlwinds called dust devils. Such winds are active throughout the day, but as night falls, Mars becomes quite peaceful as wind fluctuations die down at night.
InSight was also able to capture certain “night-shining” clouds after sunset. They shone at the outer edges of the atmosphere. They were formed when ice collects around the dusty streaks, which are the remnants of meteors.