NASA InSight experienced severe tremors on Mars and began burying the cable
April 7, 2021
NASA InSight has already proven that Mars is a seismically active planet and recently there have been relatively strong tremorswhich came from an area called Cerberus Fossae. Two shakes of 3.6 and 3.5 on the Richter scale had spread from it before, and now two more had magnitudes of 3.3 and 3.1, or slightly weaker. These are tremors classified as small to weak, which are manifested on Earth by already clearly perceptible movements inside buildings, which can crush dishes, but do not cause major damage.
Cerberus Fossae is a tectonically active region located in relative proximity to InSight. Thanks ESA images we can see two clear tectonic faults that pass through the area, and now it is also clear that Mars is still “working” in this area and is affected by nearby volcanoes (Tharsis in the east, Elysium in the northwest).
detail of faults in Cerberus Fossae
Further strong shocks are welcome as a new source of information that will make it possible to find out what internal structure Mars currently has. It will be useful to ensure that InSight can listen to Mars for as long as possible, and this is what the JPL operator is now trying to do, using a robotic arm whose time no longer has to be spent trying in vain to bury the HP3 heat probe.
Now NASA is using this hand as a small bag to pick up the surrounding regolith and throw it at the cable leading from the SEIS tool. Currently, there is summer in the place of the InSight module (northern hemisphere), which means a weaker wind, and thus better conditions for listening to the gentle tremors of the planet. However, the conditions are still complicated and it is mainly the differences in night and day temperatures, currently about -100 to 0 ° C.
NASA believes that sudden temperature changes affect the signal transmitted by the cable from the SEIS instrument to the module. Therefore, she decided to use a robotic arm with a shovel and bury the cable, or at least insulate it a little, so that in his case the temperature changes would not be so great and sharp. For a start, NASA began pouring regolith on the protective dome of the SEIS instrument, from which the material slides down to where the cable comes from. Then it will continue further towards the module itself, so the operator has something to do. In any case, it is much easier to work with a safer result (in terms of the very goal of burying the cable) than when the hand with the blade was used as a support for the HP3 heat probe, in which case NASA has long since given up attempting to bury.