NASA’s Mars InSight lander has registered some eerie sounds thanks to a seismometer located inside the probe, which is able to tape the tiniest of vibrations. The space agency shared the ‘peculiar sounds’ recorded on Mars on its Jet Propulsion Laboratory website.
The InSight team discovered that parts inside the seismometer were extending and contracting, creating strange mechanical sounds which showed up in the samples sent on Earth.
All in all, the eerie sounds have proven to be a composition of wind storms, noise from mechanical movements of fragments inside the lander itself, and marsquakes. Marsquakes are the equivalent of an earthquake but on Mars. The sound had to be improved for humans to be able to hear it.
The lander’s Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure sensor has detected over 100 occurrences since the probe planted it on the Martian surface back in January. By April, InSight has already sent a recording of a marsquake.
Astrophysicist Brad Tucker explained that Mars Insight has been on the planet for more than a year and has identified a dozen marsquakes so far. The researchers tend to believe they are more brutal than earthquakes, so they last longer and are more extreme in their power.
The InSight team suggests that marsquakes last for tens of minutes, dissimilar to the seconds here on Earth, due to the Red Planet’s dried layer in which cracks remain after the strike. The sound waves can dissipate, instead of traveling in a single line like here on our planet, enabling sound waves to continue ceaselessly.
Imperial College London’s Constantinos Charalambous, who’s on InSight’s SEIS team, said in a statement that it was incredibly exciting, more so in the beginning, when they heard the first vibrations from the lander.
“You’re imagining what’s really happening on Mars as InSight sits on the open landscape,” Charalambous said.