The large earthquake that hit Mars revealed the planet’s crust with layers that could indicate that the area was hit by a meteoroid impact. Previous studies suggested that large impacts have been occurring on the planet.
A study conducted by UCLA scientists revealed that the planet’s crust has layers of sedimentary and volcanic rock that are beneath the surface.
In May 2022, a magnitude 4.7 earthquake occurred on Mars, which was five times more powerful than any previously recorded earthquake. Although the natural phenomenon was moderate, it was capable of generating seismic waves around the planet. This was the first time this type of seismic activity was observed on Mars.
The readings were taken by the InSight lander, which arrived on Mars in 2018. It is the first space-based seismometer that’s designed to study the inner regions of the planet.
According to Caroline Beghein, a space sciences professor at UCLA, the seismometer on the InSight lander has already recorded thousands of earthquakes on Mars, but this was the first one that produced a large amount of seismic waves. Two types of waves were produced by the earthquake, and only one of these has been observed on the planet following two impact events.
Understanding the various seismic activities on Mars will allow scientists to design future structures on the planet to protect future human explorers. It will also help them determine the exact location and frequency of these activities.
Like on Earth, studying the movement of seismic waves through the rocks on Mars can provide scientists with valuable information about the planet’s composition and temperature. It can also help them determine the past forces that have affected the planet.
To gain a deeper understanding of the movement of seismic waves on Mars, Beghein and her team collaborated with the data collected by the InSight lander. They measured two types of surface waves known as Love and Rayleigh waves. This was the first time that these two waves were combined on the planet.
The researchers discovered that the waves moved faster in the planet’s crust when the rocks from a distance of around 10 to 25 kilometres underground move in a perpendicular direction.
According to Beghein, the data they collected showed that the waves moved faster in the planet’s crust due to the changes in the layers of sedimentary and volcanic rock. These changes could be caused by large-impact events or even ancient volcanic rocks.