The amazing discoveries of NASA InSight: seismic activity and sunlit sky

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Six fascinating studies published in Nature Geoscience and Nature Communications magazines detail the discoveries made with NASA InSight, which first landed on Mars in November 2018. The news of the final confirmation of seismic activity on the Red Planet appeared in all world media. Researchers have found that the same principles as on our planet are responsible for Mars' seismic activity. One study, however, is characterized by its strangeness: a team of meteorologists InSight was able to confirm the presence of a strange glow in the Martian night sky.

The fourth planet from the sun is full of secrets

Earthquakes and their causes

The InSight probe received the first signs of seismic activity on Mars in April 2019, but processing took almost a year. The data acquisition was carried out with the SEIS tool, which consists of three detectors and can detect ground vibrations with different frequencies. The intestine of Mars turned out to be much more active than the moon, but quieter than on our planet. According to the study's authors, Mars generally resembles the quiet corners of the earth, far from zones of seismic stress and interference.

For 235 Mars days, the InSight probe recorded 174 seismic events, 150 of which were found to be high-frequency and 24 to be low-frequency. Researchers believe that low-frequency seismic events are tectonic in nature. It is these 24 events that most interest scientists. Various waves travel around the earth's crust, and based on this, researchers can obtain information about the geological layers of Mars and determine the location of the source. According to the study's authors, they were able to approximate the location of the source in 13 of 24 events, and two of the strongest tremors were recorded in the Cerberus ledges – faults and crevices at the equator of Mars. In terms of volcanic activity, the Cerberus rocky outcrops are the youngest geological region on the Red Planet. According to the researchers, the last outbreak occurred about 10 million years ago.

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The seismic activity of Mars is no longer in doubt

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The increase in wind on Mars is observed from midnight until morning when the colder air descends from the highlands of the southern hemisphere to the regions of the northern hemisphere where the InSight apparatus is now located. As the day progresses, the sun's rays heat the air, causing convective currents. In the evening the wind increases and the atmospheric pressure drops. Because of these favorable conditions, the inSight seismograph was able to register tectonic noise from the bowels of the planet.

Mars whirlwinds

Another unsolved mystery for scientists is numerous evidence of the existence of dust devils or "cyclones" near the InSight landing site. However, recent observations of the device have recorded no evidence of its existence. According to Vice Ban Donfield of Cornell University, who heads the InSight weather science team, researchers are almost certain to imagine a lot of vertebrae, but for some reason they don't seem opaque or opaque enough to be seen.

And what do you think, are there really Mars vortices and what are they? Share your opinion in the comments to this article and with the participants in our telegram chat

It looks like the sky on the red planet at night. Photo taken by InSight Probe

Air glow

A series of night shots showed that a light known as "air glow" in the sky of the red planet is caused by photochemical reactions in the sky. According to scientists, the source of the glow is not the reflection of light from the Mars satellites, but is caused by photochemical reactions in the upper atmosphere. For a long time, the researchers assumed that a glow of air would appear on the red planet, but this has only now been confirmed. The observations obtained were possible due to the many extremely sensitive meteorological instruments.

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