NASA keeps finger cross for 'Marsquakes', next Mars mission on Saturday

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NASA Phoenix Mars Mission
NASA Phoenix Mars Mission

New Delhi : NASA is launching their newest Mars exploration mission on Saturday. It is an Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) mission.  Scientists say that the next gen machine will go well with one Mars years and will listen for vibrations that happen beneath the surface of the planet.

The next generation machine is inspired by the older mars lander Phoenix and is designed to listen vibrations that happen beneath the surface of the planet to answer some fundamental questions about how rocky planets, indicating the formation of Earth. As it reaches the red planet, it will extend its arms and place a seismometer, a device that measures quakes onto the surface of Mars.

The quakes on Mars, also termed as Marsquakes are just like earthquakes on the Earth. These are vibrations that move through the ground. However, these quakes form on the Red Planet may be fundamentally different than on Earth. And, these differences could help scientists better understand about the evolution of our planet.

Earthquakes on our planet take place due to plate tectonics mechanics as the plates that make up Earth's outer shell glide over the mantle, Earth's rocky innards. Experts say these tectonic plates are constantly moving roughly between 2 and 4 inches each year, bumping into each other and slipping past one another. Sometimes when a plate is moving past another plate, its rough edge gets trapped and stops, while the rest of the plate continues to move. Because that part of the plate is stuck, it stores up the energy it would normally use to move, eventually catching up to the rest of the plate and releasing all the energy as seismic waves, causing shaking, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

But Mars doesn't have a fragmented outer shell like Earth does then how does quakes occur there? Well, it means that other phenomena can also cause these seismic waves, such as the stress of a slightly shrunken surface caused by planet cooling, the pressure of magma pushing up toward the surface, or even meteorite impacts, according to NASA.

But Marsquakes are very small in comparison to Earthquakes.

"What we're trying to measure are vibrations so small, they're kind of on the scale of an atom," Bruce Banerdt, the InSight principal investigator at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory said during a news briefing on Thursday.