Scientists named the reason for a powerful earthquake on "dead" Mars: it is not meteorite fall
The earthquake on Mars that shook the Red Planet in 2022 had a rather unexpected source that surprised astrophysicists. The very first and most logical version of the meteorite fall turned out to be completely wrong.
The discovery of the earthquake's source is described in a study published in Geophysical Research Letters. It turned out that the event was caused by huge tectonic forces inside the crust of Mars, which caused vibrations that lasted six hours.
On May 4, 2022, NASA's InSight lander recorded an earthquake with a magnitude of 4.7. The event was named S1222a. After the first analysis of the earthquake, scientists noticed similarities with earthquakes that occurred on Mars as a result of meteorite impacts, so researchers began looking for the impact crater.
The search involved a team of scientists from the University of Oxford, as well as the European Space Agency, the Chinese National Space Agency, the Indian Space Research Organization, and the United Arab Emirates Space Agency. Together, they explored more than 88 million square kilometers on Mars. The research was conducted using data from satellites that were looking for a crater, dust clouds, or other signs of a meteorite impact.
When it became clear that the search was unsuccessful, scientists voiced a new version: the earthquake was caused by the release of huge tectonic forces from the Martian interior.
However, their statement is not evidence that the tectonic plates of Mars are moving in the same way as during an earthquake on Earth. The available evidence suggests that the planet remains "dead".
"We still believe that there is no active plate tectonics on Mars, so this event was probably caused by the release of stress in the Martian crust," said Benjamin Fernando, co-author of the study, a planetary geophysicist at the University of Oxford.
According to him, this stress has arisen as a result of billions of years of evolution, including cooling and shrinkage of different parts of the planet at different rates.
Scientists now cannot definitively explain why some parts of Mars are experiencing more stress than others, but the recorded earthquake may help them uncover this mystery. In the future, this may help to choose the safest place on Mars for humans to live.
S1222a was one of the last events recorded by NASA's InSight mission before it was completed.
InSight launched in May 2018 and subsequently spent years studying the interior of the Red Planet and its seismology. The spacecraft transmitted its last data to Earth in December 2022. Subsequently, it lost power due to dust accumulation on the solar panels.
In more than four years of operation, InSight has recorded more than 1300 Martian earthquakes. At least eight of them were caused by meteorite impacts. If the event S1222a did occur as a result of a collision, then, according to the team, the crater should be at least 300 meters in diameter.
Earlier, OBOZ.UA reported that scientists had discovered that the source of earthquakes on the Moon was the abandoned Apollo 17 lander.