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Mars Update: Two Quakes, an Odd Rock and a Helicopter Touchdown

Several interesting events have occurred on Mars in recent days. NASA’s InSight lander detected two quakes coming from the Cerberus Fossae region – one on March 7th and the other on March 18th.

The two quakes, which had magnitudes of 3.3 and 3.1, further validate the theory that the location is seismically active. In fact, InSight has detected more than 500 quakes so far during its mission.

Experts have revealed that the planet has two types of quakes – one that is “Earth-like” and the other “moon-like”. While earthquakes here travel through our planet, those on the moon are more scattered, and the majority of those on Mars seem to be between the two, although the four largest quakes that happened at Cerberus Fossae were categorized as “Earth-like”.

InSight lander

In other Mars news, a strange green-colored rock was discovered by Perseverance which has experts guessing its origin. The rock, which measures approximately 6 inches in length, was zapped by a laser on the SuperCam instrument in hopes of finding out what it is made of. Is it a meteorite or part of another area on Mars that ended up in a different location? I guess we’ll have to wait and see what the laser detects in the rock. (A picture of the rock can be seen here.)

The moment we’ve all been waiting for has finally arrived as the Mars helicopter Ingenuity has finally touched down on the Red Planet when Perseverance dropped it down to the surface. The helicopter, which weighs just 4 pounds (1.8 kilograms), is scheduled to take its first flight on April 11th and the data that it collects will be received here on Earth the following day.

It has two cameras that will collect data while flying over the Jezero Crater for 31 days. The helicopter will fly at an altitude of about 16.5 feet (5 meters) and its flight ranges will each be about 300 feet long.

While experts were concerned about the Ingenuity’s first night on Mars, new reports have stated that it survived its first cold night on the Red Planet’s surface. The helicopter’s battery successfully powered its heater to keep a steady temperature of approximately 5 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 15 degrees Celsius). Now we have to wait and see what kind of data it will collect during its flights.

Perseverance

Another interesting bit of news surfaced recently where studies of a yet-to-be-named crater on Mars indicated that it once had water; however, there were no clues revealing how it ended up there.

Research led by Brown University Ph.D. student Ben Boatwright along with Professor James Head claimed that the unusual features of the crater were probably due to a runoff from an ancient glacier. The water ran off the top of the glacier and directly into the crater as Boatwright described as being “a previously unrecognized type of hydrological system on Mars,” adding, “In lake systems characterized so far, we see evidence of drainage coming from outside the crater, breaching the crater wall and in some cases flowing out the other side. But that’s not what is happening here. Everything is happening inside the crater, and that’s very different than what’s been characterized before.” Their study was published in The Planetary Science Journal.

I’m looking forward to seeing what more secrets Mars will reveal to the world.

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Jocelyne LeBlanc works full time as a writer and is also an author with two books currently published. She has written articles for several online websites, and had an article published in a Canadian magazine on the most haunted locations in Atlantic Canada. She has a fascination with the paranormal and ghost stories, especially those that included haunted houses. In her spare time, she loves reading, watching movies, making crafts, and watching hockey.