A powerful earthquake recently jolted the Martian desert.
On May 4, NASA’s InSight lander deployed to investigate Mars’ inner workings, and recorded the greatest temblor ever detected on another planet. The marsquake was assessed to be a magnitude 5, close to a tremendous tremor planetary scientists expected to see on Mars. Earth has considerably greater earthquakes, but it is also a globe full of geologic activity, shifting tectonic plates, and flowing lava.
A magnitude five earthquake on Earth, for example, is felt regionally and may inflict minor structural damage locally (though building codes limit these impacts). However, NASA described it as a “monster quake” on Mars, and this temblor broke the previous marsquake magnitude record of 4.2.
Because there are no massive tectonic plates moving and sliding over the surface of Mars, it suffers far less shaking than Earth, and most earthquakes on Earth occur at these dynamic limits. Furthermore, because Mars is only roughly half the size of Earth, it has been simpler for Mars to lose most of its limited supply of internal heat (which causes volcanism) during the previous few billion years.
Nonetheless, Mars certainly possesses geologic life. InSight had recorded 1,313 quakes on Mars as of May 10. Furthermore, the lander, placed near Mars’ equator, isn’t detecting all Martian quakes – though it has identified temblors from 1,000 miles.