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2021-11-23

Using ambient noise to uncover three billion years of Mars's past

Using ambient noise to uncover three billion years of Mars's past

There are two ways to find out what lies deep beneath our feet: you can either drill a hole, or you can use seismic waves to create an image of the subsurface. In recent decades, seismologists have developed and improved techniques that use ambient noise to map structures in the near-surface layers down to a depth of several hundred metres. Using technologies tested on Earth, seismologists have now mapped structures on another planet for the very first time. These analyses provided a glimpse into three billion years of Mars's past, as detailed in a study recently published in Nature Communications.

Since NASA's InSight mission landed on Mars in November 2018 and installed a seismometer, the Marsquake Service, led by ETH Zurich and involving the Swiss Seismological Service (SED), has been regularly analysing the recorded seismic data. In addition to identifying numerous marsquakes, researchers used these data to make statements about the structure of the planet's interior. They built a profile of the planet's crust, mantle and core but could not yet reveal much about the near-surface structures. However, shallow subsurface is vital to understanding Mars's geological history.

Rather than using marsquake signals to look into the subsurface, the new study utilises the ambient noise recorded at times without marsquakes. On Earth, such noise is generated by ocean waves, wind and human activity. Over the past few decades, the SED has developed methods to analyse ambient noise. These methods are used to define the structure of the local geology and to determine whether the local subsurface tends to attenuate or amplify seismic waves. This information is crucial for determining a site's earthquake hazard and analysing unstable landslide zones on mountains or in lakes.

On Mars, ambient noise is triggered by the wind, which generates seismic waves when interacting with the planet's surface. Based on analyses of this ambient noise, researchers can now image for the first time the shallow subsurface of Mars and study its geological history at depths ranging from a few dozens to two hundred metres. In contrast to Earth, Mars has never been home to any active plate tectonics. The planet has been shaped by phases of active volcanism that covered large areas with basaltic lava plateaus. The new analyses provide now a detailed image of the subsurface at the InSight landing site and show a top layer of three meters sand (regolith) and loose rock about 20 metres thick that has been fissured by thousands of meteorite impacts. Below are layers of lava flows that covered the planet between 1.7 and 3.6 billion years ago. These lava layers are divided by sediments lying at around 30 to 75 metres deep. The seismic image of the layer-cake geological stratification allows researchers to trace, for the very first time, the most important geological events that have occurred at the InSight landing site on Mars over the last three billion years.

When humans land on Mars one day, they need to know what lies under their feet. The question of whether these near-surface layers contain water is, for example, particularly interesting. The results of this latest study demonstrate that established techniques to investigate Earth are helping to answer such questions on Mars.

Hobiger, M., Hallo, M., Schmelzbach, C. et al. The shallow structure of Mars at the InSight landing site from inversion of ambient vibrations. Nat Commun 12, 6756 (2021).
https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-26957-7

2021-07-23

The anatomy of a planet

The anatomy of a planet

Researchers at ETH Zurich working together with an international team have been able to use seismic data to look inside Mars for the first time. They measured the crust, mantle and core and narrowed down their composition. The three resulting articles are being published together as a cover story in the journal Science.

Since early 2019, researchers have been recording and analysing marsquakes as part of the InSight mission. This relies on a seismometer whose data acquisition and control electronics were developed at ETH Zurich. Using this data, the researchers have now measured the red planet’s crust, mantle and core – data that will help determine the formation and evolution of Mars and, by extension, the entire solar system.

Mars once completely molten

We know that Earth is made up of shells: a thin crust of light, solid rock surrounds a thick mantle of heavy, viscous rock, which in turn envelopes a core consisting mainly of iron and nickel. Terrestrial planets, including Mars, have been assumed to have a similar structure. “Now seismic data has confirmed that Mars presumably was once completely molten before dividing into the crust, mantle and core we see today, but that these are different from Earth’s,” says Amir Khan, a scientist at the Institute of Geophysics at ETH Zurich and at the Physics Institute at the University of Zurich. Together with his ETH colleague Simon Stähler, he analysed data from NASA’s InSight mission, in which ETH Zurich is participating under the leadership of Professor Domenico Giardini.

No plate tectonics on Mars

The researchers have discovered that the Martian crust under the probe’s landing site near the Martian equator is between 15 and 47 kilometres thick. Such a thin crust must contain a relatively high proportion of radioactive elements, which calls into question previous models of the chemical composition of the entire crust.

Beneath the crust comes the mantle with the lithosphere of more solid rock reaching 400–600 kilometres down – twice as deep as on Earth. This could be because there is now only one continental plate on Mars, in contrast to Earth with its seven large mobile plates. “The thick lithosphere fits well with the model of Mars as a ‘one-plate planet’,” Khan concludes.

The measurements also show that the Martian mantle is mineralogically similar to Earth’s upper mantle. “In that sense, the Martian mantle is a simpler version of Earth’s mantle.” But the seismology also reveals differences in chemical composition. The Martian mantle, for example, contains more iron than Earth’s. However, theories as to the complexity of the layering of the Martian mantle also depend on the size of the underlying core – and here, too, the researchers have come to new conclusions. 

The core is liquid and larger than expected

The Martian core has a radius of about 1,840 kilometres, making it a good 200 kilometres larger than had been assumed 15 years ago, when the InSight mission was planned. The researchers were now able to recalculate the size of the core using seismic waves. “Having determined the radius of the core, we can now calculate its density,” Stähler says.

“If the core radius is large, the density of the core must be relatively low,” he explains: “That means the core must contain a large proportion of lighter elements in addition to iron and nickel.” These include sulphur, oxygen, carbon and hydrogen, and make up an unexpectedly large proportion. The researchers conclude that the composition of the entire planet is not yet fully understood. Nonetheless, the current investigations confirm that the core is liquid – as suspected – even if Mars no longer has a magnetic field.

Reaching the goal with different waveforms

The researchers obtained the new results by analysing various seismic waves generated by marsquakes. “We could already see different waves in the InSight data, so we knew how far away from the lander these quake epicentres were on Mars,” Giardini says. To be able to say something about a planet’s inner structure calls for quake waves that are reflected at or below the surface or at the core. Now, for the first time, researchers have succeeded in observing and analysing such waves on Mars.

“The InSight mission was a unique opportunity to capture this data,” Giardini says. The data stream will end in a year when the lander’s solar cells are no longer able to produce enough power. “But we’re far from finished analysing all the data – Mars still presents us with many mysteries, most notably whether it formed at the same time and from the same material as our Earth.” It is especially important to understand how the internal dynamics of Mars led it to lose its active magnetic field and all surface water. “This will give us an idea of whether and how these processes might be occurring on our planet,” Giardini explains. “That’s our reason why we are on Mars, to study its anatomy.”

Reference

Khan A et al.: Upper mantle structure of Mars from InSight seismic data. Science, 373, (6553) p. 434-438.

Stähler S et al.: Seismic detection of the Martian core. Science, 373, (6553) p. 443-448. doi:10.1126/science.abi7730

Knapmeyer-Endrun B et al.: Thickness and structure of the Martian crust from InSight seismic data. Science, 373, (6553) p. 438-443. doi:10.1126/science.abf8966

Further information

InSight mission information

Detailed ETH News article: Advancing to the core thanks to marsquakes

2021-06-22

New ETH podcast episode: One universe - two perspectives

New ETH podcast episode: One universe - two perspectives

While Domenico Giardini, Professor of Seismology and Geodynamics, already has his hands on Mars, Adrian Glauser, Senior Researcher at the Institute for Astronomy, has to be patient. Among many others, Adrian worked on the James-Webb-Telescope that shall finally launch this fall, with a delay of many years. Both researchers talk about their work in the ETH Podcast and contemplate the universe's dimension to time on planet earth.

You can learn more about the podcast here and listen to the episode on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher and Google Podcasts.

2021-04-06

After the storms: InSight detects large marsquakes

After the storms: InSight detects large marsquakes

NASA’s InSight mission detected two large marsquakes as summer emerges, the winds calm, and the dust settles. Now, after one Martian year (687 Earth days) the Marsquake Service led by ETH Zurich and operated by the Seismology and Geodynamics group and the Swiss Seismological Service is faster than ever at characterizing seismic activity on the red planet.

After several months of windy weather and dust storms, the atmosphere of Mars is becoming quiet again and the seismometer on the InSight lander started recording significant marsquakes. In early March, two new marsquakes with magnitudes of 3.3 and 3.1 were observed. Within 12 hours of the data arriving on Earth, researchers at the Marsquake Service at ETH Zurich determined the location, magnitude and, in one case, even the focal mechanism. This rapid result demonstrates that the whole chain of data recording, transmission, and analysis set-up by the InSight mission is functioning efficiently and rapidly. These moderately sized events recorded at over 1,200 km distance and by a single station (that would not even be observed by a similar station on Earth), are sufficient to confirm the emerging geological interpretation of the internal structure and surface tectonics of the red planet acquired over the past year on Mars.

Since the beginning of the Mars InSight mission on 26 November 2018, over 500 marsquakes have been recorded. With magnitudes between 1 and 4, these are small events compared to terrestrial earthquakes. Only a few of these marsquakes could be reliably located, determining both the direction and distance from the seismometer. The recently detected, larger marsquakes are located in Cerberus Fossae, a long graben system about 1,200 km from Elysium Planitia, where InSight landed. They have an extensional mechanism consistent with the regional tectonic setting showing that the Martian crust is still undergoing active deformation.

In the InSight mission, data recorded on Mars are relayed back to Earth in regular transmissions, often multiple times a day, via the NASA Deep Space Network. They are promptly compiled and controlled for quality by the Jet-Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in the U.S. and the National Centre for Space Studies (CNES) in France, and delivered to the Marsquake Service located at ETH Zurich in Switzerland. The Marsquake Service is responsible for the first analysis of the Mars data, with the goal of identifying marsquakes and releasing periodic marsquake catalogues – the starting point for further scientific investigations. This is a collaborative ground service operation that includes on-duty seismologists from ETH Zurich, Institut de physique du globe de Paris (IPGP), University of Bristol, and Imperial College London. At the start of the mission, the data recorded on Mars was full of surprises and difficult to decipher. After a full year of processing seismic data from Mars, the Marsquake Service is now able to fully characterise the signals within just a few hours after having been recorded on Mars. This performance is comparable to that achieved by modern seismic networks on the Earth.

Recognizing the successful performance of InSight, NASA has approved the extension of the mission for a second Martian year. Unfortunately, the red dust which characterises all the pictures of Mars is also accumulating on InSight’s solar panels, reducing the panel’s power production and raising concerns about the long-term operation of the mission.

To learn more about the NASA InSight mission visit www.insight.ethz.ch or www.mars.nasa.gov/insight/

Access the joint press release about the recent Marsquake.

2021-02-22

Martian moons have a common ancestor

Martian moons have a common ancestor

The two Martian moons Phobos and Deimos are thought to have originated from one and the same celestial body that orbited Mars between 1 and 2.7 billion years ago.

Phobos and Deimos are the remains of a larger Martian moon that was disrupted between 1 and 2.7 billion years ago, say researchers from the Institute of Geophysics at ETH Zurich and the Physics Institute at the University of Zurich. They reached this conclusion using computer simulations and seismic recordings from the InSight Mars mission.

Mars’s two moons, Phobos and Deimos, have puzzled researchers since their discovery in 1877. They are very small: Phobos’s diameter of 22 kilometres is 160 times smaller than that of our Moon, and Deimos is even smaller, with a diameter of only 12 kilometres. “Our moon is essentially spherical, while the moons of Mars are very irregularly shaped – like potatoes,” says Amirhossein Bagheri, a doctoral student at the Institute of Geophysics at ETH Zurich, adding: “Phobos and Deimos look more like asteroids than natural moons.”

This led people to suspect that they might in fact be asteroids that were captured in Mars’s gravity field. “But that’s where the problems started,” Bagheri says. Captured objects would be expected to follow an eccentric orbit around the planet, and that orbit would be at a random inclination. In contradiction to this hypothesis, the orbits of the Martian moons are almost circular and move in the equatorial plane of Mars. So, what is the explanation for the current orbits of Phobos and Deimos? To solve this dynamic problem, the researchers relied on computer simulations.

Calculating the past

“The idea was to trace the orbits and their changes back into the past,” says Amir Khan, a Senior Scientist at the Physics Institute of the University of Zurich and the Institute of Geophysics at ETH Zurich. As it turned out, the orbits of Phobos and Deimos appeared to have crossed in the past. “This means that the moons were very likely in the same place and therefore have the same origin,” Khan says. The researchers concluded that a larger celestial body was orbiting Mars back then. This original moon was probably hit by another body and disintegrated as a result. “Phobos and Deimos are the remainders of this lost moon,” says Bagheri, who is lead author of the study now published in the journal Nature Astronomy.

While easy to follow, these conclusions required extensive preliminary work. First, the researchers had to refine the existing theory describing the interaction between the moons and Mars. “All the celestial bodies exert tidal forces on each other,” Khan explains. These forces lead to a form of energy conversion known as dissipation, the scale of which depends on the bodies’ size, their interior composition and not least the distances between them.

Insights into the interior of Mars and its moons

Mars is currently being explored by NASA’s InSight mission, with ETH Zurich’s involvement: the electronics for the mission’s seismometer, which is recording marsquakes and possibly meteorite impacts, were built at ETH. “These recordings let us look inside the Red Planet,” Khan says, “and this data is used to constrain the Mars model in our calculations and the dissipation occurring inside the red planet”

Images and measurements by other Mars probes have suggested that Phobos and Deimos are made of very porous material. At less than 2 grams per cubic centimetre, their density is much lower than the average density of Earth, which is 5.5 grams per cubic centimetre. “There are a lot of cavities inside Phobos, which might contain water ice,” Khan suspects, “and that’s where the tides are causing a lot of energy to dissipate.”

Using these findings and their refined theory on the tidal effects, the researchers ran hundreds of computer simulations to track the orbits of the moons backward in time until they reached the intersection – the moment Phobos and Deimos were born. Depending on the simulation, this point in time lies between 1 and 2.7 billion years in the past. “The exact time depends on the physical properties of Phobos and Deimos, that is, how porous they are” Bagheri says. A Japanese probe scheduled for launch in 2025 will explore Phobos and return samples to Earth. The researchers expect that these samples will provide the needed details about the interior of the Martian moons that will enable more precise calculations of their origin.

The end of Phobos

Another thing their calculations show is that the common ancestor of Phobos and Deimos was further away from Mars than Phobos is today. While the smaller Deimos has remained in the vicinity of where it came into being, tidal forces are causing the larger Phobos to approach Mars – and this process is ongoing, as the researchers explain. Their computer simulations also show the future development of the moons’ orbits. It seems Deimos will move away from Mars very slowly, just as our Moon is slowly receding from Earth. Phobos, however, will crash into Mars in less than 40 million years or be torn apart by the gravitational forces as it nears Mars.

Reference:

Amirhossein Bagheri, Amir Khan, Michael Efroimsky, Mikhail Kruglyakov and Domenico Giardini: “Dynamical evidence for Phobos and Deimos as remnants of a disrupted common progenitor”, Nature Astronomy, published online Feb 22nd 2021; DOI 10.1038/s41550-021-01306-2 https://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41550-021-01306-2

Images of Phobos: https://www.esa.int/ESA_Multimedia/Images/2004/11/Phobos_in_colour_close-up2

https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/images/phobos-from-6800-kilometers-color

Image of Deimos:

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap090316.html

Article by Barbara Vonarburg.

2020-08-05

Online museum tours about Mars and the InSight mission

The team of focusTerra, the Earth Science Research and Information Centre of ETH Zurich, has made an enjoyable web video about the InSight mission (in German). Very entertaining and understandable they explain the background and goals of the mission and give insights into the first evaluation of the marsquakes. Well worth seeing!

If you would like to learn more about Mars, you will find more information in the "Next Stop: Mars" online tours from focusTerra (in German). Get on board and fly to the red planet in the three-part online tour!

2020-02-24

The seismicity of Mars

The seismicity of Mars

Fifteen months after the successful landing of the NASA InSight mission on Mars, first scientific analyses of ETH Zurich researchers and their partners reveal that the planet is seismically active. The recorded data enables a better understanding of the interior of Mars, the primary goal of the InSight mission.

On 26 November 2018, the NASA InSight lander successfully set down on Mars in the Elysium Planitia region. Seventy Martian days later, the mission’s seismometer SEIS began recording the planet’s vibrations. A team of researchers and engineers at ETH Zurich, led by ETH Professor Domenico Giardini, had delivered the SEIS control electronics and is responsible for the Marsquake Service. The latter is in charge for the daily interpretation of the data transmitted from Mars, in collaboration with the Swiss Seismological Service at ETH Zurich. Now, the journal Nature Geoscience published a series of articles on the results of the mission in the first months of operation on Mars.

As reported in these articles, InSight recorded 174 events until the end of September 2019. Since then, the measurements have continued leading to more than 450 observed marsquakes as of today, which have not yet been analysed in detail. This accounts for one event a day on average. The data allows researchers observing how seismic waves travel through the planet and unveiling its internal characteristics – similar to how x-rays are used in medical tomography. Before InSight landed, researchers had developed a wide range of possible models to represent the internal structure of the red planet: Scientists from the Institute of Geophysics calculated the seismic wave propagation for more than 100 different Mars models on CSCS supercomputer “Piz Daint”. The recorded marsquakes, already after few months, enable refining the understanding of the structure of the planet and to reduce the uncertainties.

Marsquakes are similar to the seismic events we see on Earth, although they are generally of smaller magnitude. The 174 registered marsquakes can be categorized in two families: One includes 24 low-frequency events with magnitudes between 3 and 4, as documented in the papers, with waves propagating through the Martian mantle. A second family of marsquakes comprises 150 events with smaller magnitudes, shallower hypocentral depth and high frequency waves trapped in the Martian crust. “Marsquakes have characteristics already observed on the Moon during the Apollo era, with a long signal duration (10 to 20 minutes) due to the scattering properties of the Martian crust”, explains ETH Professor Giardini. In general, however, he says, interpreting marsquake data is very challenging and in most cases, it is only possible to identify the distance but not the direction from which the waves are arriving.

InSight opens a new era for planetary seismology. The SEIS performance exceeded so far expectations, considering the harsh conditions on Mars, characterized by temperatures ranging from minus 80 to 0 degrees Celsius every day and by strong wind oscillations. Indeed wind shakes the InSight lander and its instrumentation during the day leading to a high level of ambient noise. However, at sunset, the winds calm down allowing recording the quietest seismic data ever collected in the solar system. As a result, most seismic events detected on Mars by SEIS occurred in the quiet night hours. The challenging environment also requires to carefully distinguishing between seismic events and signals originating from movements of the lander, other instruments or atmospheric-induced perturbances.

The hammering by the HP3 instrument (another InSight experiment) and the close passage of whirlwinds (dust devils), recorded by SEIS, allow to map the physical properties of the shallow soil layers just below the station. We now know that SEIS landed on a thin, sandy layer reaching a few meters deep, in the middle of a 20 meter-wide ancient impact crater. At greater depths, the Martian crust has properties comparable to Earth’s crystalline massifs but appears to be more fractured. The propagation of the seismic waves suggest that the upper mantle has a stronger attenuation compared to the lower mantle.

InSight landed in a rather quiet region of Mars, as no events near the station have been recorded up to now. The three biggest events were located in the Cerberus Fossae region about 1’500 km away. It is a tectonic graben system, caused by the weight of the Elysium Mons, the biggest volcano in the Elysium Planitia area. This provides strong evidence that seismic activity on Mars is not only a consequence of the cooling and therewith the shrinking of the planet but also induced by tectonic stress. The total seismic energy released on Mars lies between the one of Earth and of the Moon.

SEIS, complementary to other InSight measurements, also meaningfully contributed data to better understand the meteorological processes on Mars. The instrument’s sensitivity to both wind and atmospheric pressure allowed identifying meteorological phenomena characteristic of Mars, including the many dust devils that pass by the spacecraft every afternoon.

More detailed results of the seismic analysis and additional findings of the InSight mission can be accessed in the series of papers recently published in Nature Geosciences: The seismicity of Mars, Crustal and time-varying magnetic fields at the InSight landing site on Mars, The atmosphere of Mars as observed by InSight, Initial results from the InSight mission on Mars

Learn more about the NASA InSight mission: https://mars.nasa.gov/insight/

2019-10-01

New ETH project to explore the interior of Mars

New ETH project to explore the interior of Mars

Starting in 2020, the project Planet MARS investigates and characterizes the nature of Mars’ interior structure and dynamics using a broad range of observations as well as theoretical, numerical, and experimental approaches. This ETH-funded project builds upon the successful landing and acquisition of data from the NASA InSight lander on Mars. Planet MARS aims at answering the following goals:

  • determine Mars’s crust, mantle, and core structure using both passive and active InSight data
  • interface with high-pressure mineral physics experiments and thermodynamic modelling methods to further constrain structure and evolution
  • determine magma reservoir stability on Mars using petrological data from Martian meteorites and thermomechanical modelling as a window on differentiation and crust formation processes
  • use constraints from magma ocean crystallisation experiments as a means of understanding evolution and present-day structure
  • determine differentiation and accretion history of Mars from trace and isotope geochemical measurements

Considering the scale and breadth of the scientific challenge, Planet MARS is an integrated, fully comprehensive approach, joining exploration geophysicists, geodynamicists, experimental petrologists, mineral physicists, volcanologists, geochemists, and numerical and observational seismologists in a unique collaborative framework. The research to be carried out represents a cross-disciplinary effort involving nine groups at ETH Zurich.

Seven PhD positions in Planet MARS

For Planet MARS, the Department of Earth Sciences at ETH Zurich, appointed seven PhD candidates to work on a broad range of topics on Mars. They will cover the following subprojects:

  1. Single-station seismology on Mars (J. Clinton)
  2. Magma reservoirs on Mars: Controls on differentiation processes and crust formation (O. Bachmann)
  3. Elasticity of a hydrous Martian mantle (M. Murakami)
  4. Fractional crystallization of the Martian magma ocean (M. Schmidt)
  5. The accretion history of Mars (M. Schönbächler)
  6. Seismic resolution of the Martian crust (S. Stähler)
  7. Joint inversion of geophysical data for Martian mantle and core structure (A. Khan, J. Noir)

Learn more about the project here.

2019-07-19

Marsquakes Rock and Roll

Marsquakes Rock and Roll

Fifty years after Apollo 11 astronauts deployed the first seismometer on the surface of the Moon, NASA InSight’s seismic experiment transmits data giving researchers the opportunity to compare marsquakes to moon and earthquakes.

Seismologists operating the Marsquake Service at ETH Zurich literally rocked and rolled as they experienced, for the first time, two “marsquakes” in the university’s quake simulator. Researchers uploaded actual data from marsquakes detected on Martian solar day or Sol 128 and 173.The marsquakes were detected by the SEIS seismometer, whose highly sensitive electronics were delivered by the Aerospace Electronics and Instruments laboratory at ETH.

Watch the video taken in the simulator!

Two Types of Marsquakes

SEIS contains arguably the most sensitive seismometer ever operated, capable of detecting even the faintest seismic signals on Mars. Researchers had to amplify the marsquake signals by a factor of 10 million in order to make the quiet and distant tremors perceptible in ETH Zurich’s quake simulator and to compare them with a similarly amplified moon and earthquake.

“We are currently observing two families of quakes on Mars,” says Dr. Simon Stähler. “The first quake was a high frequency event more similar to a moonquake than we expected. The second quake was a much lower frequency, and we think this may be due to the distance. The lower frequency quake likely occurred further away from the seismometer. Compared to the duration of earthquakes, both types of the marsquakes last longer.”

Earth, Moon, and Marsquakes

While seismic waves that travel through the Earth typically persist between 10s of seconds to a few minutes, moonquakes can last up to an hour or more. The extent of the seismic signal is due to distance and to differences in geological structures. If one compares the surfaces of the Earth and the Moon, it might be surprising to learn that the Earth’s crust is more homogeneous than that of the Moon. Billions of years of meteorite impacts fractured the lunar crust and there is no process, on the Moon, that “bakes” the rocks together. On the Earth, volcanism, interior heating, and plate tectonics, as well as erosion and deposition from water and wind meld broken rocks together creating a relatively unbroken and layered crust quickly erasing the traces of meteorite impacts.

“The heterogeneous lunar crust scatters seismic waves, similar to the reverberating echoes one might experience when calling out in rugged mountain terrain,” says Dr. John Clinton, who leads operations at the Marsquake Service at ETH Zurich. The Earth’s crust and mantle, by comparison, are transparent to seismic waves – much like a wide-open space is to sound waves. While seismic sensors on Earth “hear” earthquake signals cleanly, on the Moon seismic sensors detect a plethora of echoes that distort the signal making it very hard to even identify where the signals begin. While seismic research is still in its infancy on Mars, marsquakes appear to be somewhere in between moon and earthquakes. Researchers recognize the first seismic signals of the marsquake, but the signals that follow include more echoes than scientists expected. The duration of a marsquake signal can be approximately 10 to 20 minutes. Scientists do not yet know whether the fractured part of the Martian crust is just few kilometers deep, as it is on the moon, or if it is shallower.

Marsquake Service Ops

Domenico Giardini, Professor of Geophysics and Seismology, leads the Swiss participation in the InSight mission. He established the Marsquake Service (MQS) center at ETH Zurich. Roughly, twice each day, an international team of ten seismologists analyses seismic data from Mars with the aim of detecting and characterizing marsquakes.

Since there is only one seismometer on Mars, Giardini and his team combine methods taken from the early days of seismology, when there were only a few seismometers on Earth, with modern analytic methods for locating seismic events. Ultimately, researchers look to the seismic data to answer questions, not only about the interior geological structure of Mars, but also how early planets in the inner solar system formed more than four billion years ago.

The Marsquake Service is a collaborative ground service operation led by ETH Zurich and includes seismologists from the Institute of Geophysics and the Swiss Seismological Service at ETH Zurich, IPG Paris, ISAE Toulouse, University of Bristol, Imperial College London, MPS Gottingen, and JPL Pasadena.

Media reports

TV & Radio

Anche Marte ha i suoi terremoti (RSI Rete Uno, Radiogiornale 18.30, 24.2.2020)

Mars: l'EPFZ en mission (RTS Un, Le journal 19h30, 5.5.2018)

Bei der neuesten Mars-Mission "InSight" der Nasa sind auch Messgeräte der ETH Zürich dabei (SRF 1, Tagesschau Spätausgabe, 5.5.2018)

Die NASA will das Innere des Mars erforschen (SRF 1, Tagesschau Hauptausgabe, 4.5.2018)

La Svizzera partecipa a una missione internazionale su Marte (RSI LA 1, Telegiornale sera, 4.5.2018)

Forscher der NASA wollen dem Mars seine innersten Geheimnisse entlocken (SRF 1, Tagesschau 18.00, 4.5.2018)

 

Online

La planète Mars tremble e livre quelques secrets (tdg.ch, 25.2.2020)

InSight: Der Mars bebt häufig, aber sachte (24.2.2020)

Der Mars bebt und rumpelt (nzz.ch, 24.2.2020)

Der Pulsschlag des Roten Planeten (derbund.ch, 24.2.2020)

Der Pulsschlag des Roten Planeten (Tagesanzeiger, 24.2.2020)

3, 2, 1...liftoff! ETH Zurich is onboard NASA's InSight mission to Mars (cnnmoney.ch, 7.5.2018)

Schweizer Wissen unterstützt neue Weltraummission (cafe-europe.info, 7.5.2018)

Schweizer Fachwissen stützt neue Weltraummission (greaterzuricharea.com, 7.5.2018)

Sur Mars avec l’EPF de Zurich (laliberte.ch, 7.5.2018)

Ein Stück Zürich fliegt zum Mars (nzz.ch, 6.5.2018)

InSight into Red Planet NASA's mission to Mars launches with Swiss technology onboard (swissinfo.ch, 6.5.2018)

ETH fühlt den Puls des Mars (blick.ch, 5.5.2018)

Nasa-Raumsonde InSight Richtung Mars gestartet (20min.ch, 5.5.2018)

«InSight»-Lander zum Roten Planeten gestartet (srf.ch, 5.5.2018)

Mission «InSight» gestartet: Die Landefähre ist zum Mars aufgebrochen (nzz.ch, 5.5.2018)

Jetzt startet ETH-Sonde zum Mars (tagesanzeiger.ch, 5.5.2018)

Schweizer Computer fliegt zum Mars (toponline.ch, 4.5.2018)

Schweizer Fachwissen stützt neue Weltraummission (unternehmerzeitung.ch, 4.5.2018)

Un sismomètre de l'EPFZ va s'envoler sur Mars (lematin.ch, 4.5.2018)

Expedition ins Innere des Mars (nzz.ch, 4.5.2018)

Nasa-Marslander Insight soll am Samstag ins All starten (DerStandard.at, 2.5.2018)

Schweizer Qualität Seismograf entlockt dem Mars Geheimnisse (swissinfo.ch, 2.5.2018)

InSIGHT va ausculter Mars pour nous permettre de mieux la comprendre (letemps.ch, 1.5.2018)

Die ETH Zürich fliegt zum Mars (Der Bund, 30.4.2018)

ETH-Forscher wollen mit Nasa-Mission das Innere des Mars erkunden (blick.ch, 30.4.2018)

Europäer fotografieren den Mars (Wiener Zeitung Online, 30.4.2018)

Die ETH Zürich fliegt zum Mars (tagesanzeiger.ch, 30.4.2018)

ETH-Forscher wollen das Innere des Mars erkunden (Futurezone.ORF.at, 29.4.2018)

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La mission InSight dévoile ce qui agite le sous-sol martien (Le Temps, 26.2.2020)

Unser roter Nachbar bebt und rumpelt (Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 26.2.2020)

Am Puls des Mars (Süddeutsche Zeitung, 26.2.2020)

Marte, il suolo treme come sulla Terra (Corriere della Sera, 25.2.2020)

Auf dem Mars bebt es jeden Tag (Solothurner Zeitung, 25.2.2020)

Der Pulsschlag des Roten Planeten (Berner Zeitung, Ausgabe Stadt + Region Bern, 25.2.2020)

InSight: Der Mars bebt häufig, aber sachte (Keystone SDA, Schweizerische Depeschenagentur, 24.2.2020)

Ein Stück Zürich fliegt zum Mars (Neue Zürcher Zeitung NZZ, 7.5.2018)

Hier startet die ETH-Sonde zum Mars (Basler Zeitung, 7.5.2018)

Nasa-Raumsonde InSight gestartet (20 Minuten Zürich, 5.5.2018)

Expedition ins Innere des Mars (Neue Zürcher Zeitung NZZ, 4.5.2018)

InSight, une plongée dans les mystérieux sous-sols de Mars (Le Temps, 3.5.2018)

Den Mars entzaubern (Berner Zeitung, Ausgabe Stadt + Region Bern, 1.5.2018)

ETH will das Marsinnere erkunden (Der Landbote, 30.4.2018)

Bestes Seismometer für den Mars (Tages-Anzeiger, 30.4.2018)

ETH-Forscher wollen mit Nasa-Mission das Innere des Mars erkunden (Schweizerische Depeschenagentur SDA, 29.4.2018)