Now You Can Listen to Marsquakes

NASA has turned Marsquake data into sounds you can actually listen to.

After landing on Mars last year, the InSight probe deposited a sensitive seismometer called the the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS) on the Martian surface. After first recording a strange, possible Marsquake this past April, the experiment has now counted at least 21 quakes among 100 vibrational signals. Here are two of those Marsquakes:

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These quakes were recorded on Martian day 173 and 235, and equate to magnitudes of 3.7 and 3.3, respectively. You’re not listening to the vibrations directly: the readings were of vibrations below audible frequencies. Instead, it’s vibrational data processed and sped up so you can hear it, according to a press release.

Initial vibrational signals were ambiguous as to their cause, according to a previous NASA press release, and it was unclear what caused the initial Marsquake. Newer quakes have been closer to the kinds of quakes that scientists expected to hear from the planet, with lower frequencies. Scientists have learned to pick these quakes out from other sources of vibrations such as the wind and even the lander moving.

NASA equipped the InSight lander with instruments specially designed to study the planet’s interior. Mars doesn’t have multiple tectonic plates like the Earth does, but various planetary processes can still cause internal vibrations. These might be due to meteors, gravitational pull from the planets’ moons, volcanic activity, or even potential faults. And studying these quakes might allow scientists to better understand what things look like in the planet’s interior, like whether its core is a solid or liquid and how big it is.

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Now that scientists are actually detecting Marsquakes, we’re looking forward to what else we might learn about the surprisingly active Martian interior.

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About the author

Ryan F. Mandelbaum

Science writer at Gizmodo | I like physics and eating