Mars experienced its most powerful earthquake ever recorded. This extraordinary event, detected on May 4, 2022, by NASA's InSight lander, baffled scientists for months. It has now been revealed that the quake was not caused by an asteroid impact, as initially suspected, but by tectonic forces deep within Mars itself. This discovery challenges previous notions of Mars' geological activity.
The magnitude 4.7 Marsquake was five times stronger than the previous record quake on the Red Planet, with the shockwaves persisting for an unprecedented six hours. Unlike most Marsquakes, which typically cease within an hour, this prolonged shaking puzzled scientists and ignited a global collaborative effort to uncover its cause.
Researchers from major space agencies, including NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), the China National Space Administration (CNSA), the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), and the United Arab Emirates Space Agency (UAESA), pooled their resources to investigate this seismic anomaly. Each agency examined data from their respective Mars orbiters in search of a new crater or other evidence that would confirm an asteroid impact as the trigger.
Despite six months of exhaustive searching, no suitable crater or dust plume was discovered. Consequently, scientists have concluded that the colossal quake was of tectonic origin, defying conventional wisdom that Mars, due to its smaller size and colder climate, couldn't host such geological processes.
The Marsquake likely resulted from the release of ancient stress within Mars' crust, accumulated over billions of years as different parts of the planet cooled and contracted at varying rates. These findings challenge our understanding of the Red Planet's geological dynamics.