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NASA says 'monster marsquake' on Red Planet strongest quake ever measured off Earth

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NASA says 'monster marsquake' on Red Planet strongest quake ever measured off Earth
NASA's Mars Perseverance rover snapped this photo on the surface of the Red Planet on February 24, 2021. Scientists said this week that the marsquake registered a magnitude of 5.0. File Photo by NASA/UPI | License Photo

May 11 (UPI) -- NASA's state-of-the-art equipment that's sitting on the surface of Mars has detected the most powerful earthquake ever recorded on the Red Planet -- or any other world away from the Earth, for that matter.

Scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California said that the InSight Mars lander measured the "monster" marsquake -- which was a 5.0-magnitude temblor.

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The InSight lander, which has been on Mars since late 2018, has a highly sensitive seismometer to study the deep interior of the planet. The previous record-holder was a 4.2-magnitude quake that occurred last August.

Scientists said that the new strong quake was measured on May 4 -- 1,222 Martian days, or sols, since the lander has been there.

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"Since we set our seismometer in December 2018, we've been waiting for 'the big one,'" Bruce Banerdt, InSight principal investigator at JPL, said in a statement.

NASA's InSight Mars Lander captured this image not long after it landed on the Red Planet on November 26, 2018. Equipment on the lander measured the 5.0-magnitude quake on May 4. File Photo by NASA/UPI
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"This quake is sure to provide a view into the planet like no other. Scientists will be analyzing this data to learn new things about Mars for years to come."

As seismic waves pass through or reflect off material in Mars' crust, mantle and core, they change in ways that seismologists can study to determine the depth and composition of those layers, scientists said.

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"What scientists learn about the structure of Mars can help them better understand the formation of all rocky worlds, including Earth and its Moon," NASA said in a statement.

"The science team will need to study this new quake further before being able to provide details such as its location, the nature of its source, and what it might tell us about the interior of Mars.

The InSight lander is part of NASA's Discovery program, which is exploring detailed facts about the Red Planet.

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Exploration of Mars through history

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover used two different cameras to create this panoramic selfie, comprised of 60 images, in front of Mont Mercou, a rock outcrop that stands 20 feet tall on March 26, 2021, the 3,070th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. These were combined with 11 images taken by the Mastcam on the mast, or "head," of the rover on March 16. The hole visible to the left of the rover is where its robotic drill sampled a rock nicknamed "Nontron." The Curiosity team is nicknaming features in this part of Mars using names from the region around the village of Nontron in southwestern France. Photo courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

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