InSight Detects Quakes That Entered Martian Core (Artist’s Concept) April 24, 2023


This artist’s concept shows a cutaway of Mars and the paths of seismic waves from two quakes in 2021. These seismic waves, detected by NASA’s InSight mission, were the first ever identified to enter another planet’s core. InSight’s seismometer allowed scientists to study these waves and gain an unprecedented look at the Martian core.

The quakes were detailed in a paper published April 24, 2023, in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences. On Aug. 25 and Sept. 18, 2021, the two quakes were the first identified by the InSight team to have originated on the opposite side of the planet from the lander – so-called farside quakes. The distance proved crucial: The farther an earthquake happens from InSight, the deeper into the earth its seismic waves can travel before being detected.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory manages InSight for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate. InSight is part of NASA’s Discovery Program, organized by the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Lockheed Martin Space in Denver built the InSight spacecraft, including its cruise stage and lander, and supported spacecraft operations for the mission.


Several European partners support the InSight mission, including France’s Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES) and the German Aerospace Center (DLR). CNES provided the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS) instrument to NASA, with the principal investigator at IPGP (Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris). Significant contributions for SEIS came from IPGP; the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS) in Germany; the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich) in Switzerland; Imperial College London and Oxford University in the United Kingdom; and JPL. The Marsquake Service is headed by ETH Zurich, with significant contributions from IPGP; the University of Bristol; Imperial College; ISAE (Institut Supérieur de l’Aéronautique et de l’Espace); MPS; and JPL. DLR provided the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3) instrument, with significant contributions from the Space Research Center (CBK) of the Polish Academy of Sciences and Astronika in Poland. Spain’s Centro de Astrobiología (CAB) supplied the temperature and wind sensors.


NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Maryland


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