Upon its landing on the red planet in November 2018, NASA’s InSight lander detected the sound and a range of seismic activity. Beneath its frigid, dusty surface, Mars is humming.
“The quiet, constant drone periodically pulses with the beat of quakes rippling around the planet,” stated National Geographic, “but the source of this alien music remains unknown”.
Though inaudible to conscious humans, the strange sound is said to resemble that of “the Hum”, an unexplained rumbling noise called infrasound that some claimed to hear throughout Earth, invasive with persistent low-frequency. The exact cause for this has not yet been pinpointed, despite the fact that it was reported to occur more frequently around certain technologies in particular areas, as maintained by Global News.
While scientists were stumped by the hum detected on the red planet, it is just one of the many mysterious discoveries made by the InSight lander, said unbelievable facts. Through five studies published in Nature Communications and Nature Geoscience, details of the surprising activities that seem to be going on on Mars, both above and below the surface, were shared with the public.
“We have discovered Martian infrasound and unexpected similarities between atmospheric turbulence on Earth and Mars,” they noted in one of those studies. In addition, the Insight recorded 174 marsquakes over its 10 months on Mars, with 24 quite powerful ones that had magnitudes around 3 and 4, as mentioned by Global News.
NASA explains that the robot was using a seismometer tool to measure so-called “marsquakes”, which showed up on one of the machines about a year ago, when it picked up on the background “Hum” of the red planet. The lander also registered more than 400 quakes, as maintained by Global News, which confirmed that Mars does indeed have plenty of seismic activity. Scientists initially suspect that the combination of wind above and geological movement below Mars’s surface may be the cause for the humming sound, but further analysis suggests that the hum is unrelated to the planet’s roaring winds and they seemed to be strengthened by the cracks of distant marsquakes.
An earthquake seismologist at Imperial College London, Stephen Hicks explained that the hum and quakes may be caused by two separate sources, and that it is a possibility that the InSight is causing the mysterious resonance.
Ever since its arrival on Mars, InSight has taken readings of Mars’s internal structure as well as geologic activity from a small crater called the Elysium Planitia with use of highly sensitive seismometers and various other instruments. As specified by unbelievable facts, the robot has also made discoveries on the first active fault zone in addition to pulses/patterns in the planet’s current magnetic field that provide hints to its magnetic past. Its readings reveal that Mars is ‘basically shivering with earthquakes as it gets colder’. The information gathered by InSight impacted researchers’ works significantly as they piece together the process that led to the formation and evolution of the rocky planets.
“Researchers also gathered a trove of data about the Martian region’s seismic activity and magnetic field, which proved to be 10 times stronger than initially expected,” stated Global News.
One of the InSight’s main goals is to measure how active and frequent earthquakes are on the red plant. According to J. Hop Times, scientists were unsure about the cause of the marsquakes as they are about the new hum detected. This is mainly due to the fact that unlike Earth, Mars is not made up of big plates, which contributes to the mystery of why quakes would be happening beneath its surface.
“It’s just such a relief to finally be able to stand up and shout, look at all this great stuff we’re seeing,” commented the principal investigator of the InSight mission, Bruce Banerdt, in National Geographic.
The deputy principal investigator of the mission, Suzanne Smrekar, adds, “You can’t make a model just from Earth, you need more data points. It’s just super exciting that we see some of these things, and that we are trying to understand Mars.”
While it is possible that expansive lava flows and floods of water, the cooling and contracting of magma, as well as the gradual movement of molten rocks may be the cause for the marsquakes, as stated by Smrekar, scientists still need to detect more tremors to pinpoint the origin of the marsquakes and get a better picture of the red planet’s subsurface.
It may take years to uncover the reason behind the hum and the quakes on the Red Planet, but scientists are looking forward to solving the mystery after studying more of InSight’s collected data.