Measuring the Pulse of Mars
- Main Job: To measure the pulse of Mars by studying waves created by marsquakes, thumps of meteorite impacts, and even surface vibrations generated by activity in Mars' atmosphere and by weather phenomena such as dust storms.
- Location: Placed on the surface of Mars
- Mass: 65 pounds (29.5 kilograms)
- Power: up to 8.5 watts
- Vacuum Chamber: About 0.8 gallons (3 liters)
- Data Return: 38 megabits per day
Did You Know?The SEIS seismometer is so sensitive, it can detect surface movements smaller than a hydrogen atom!
How It WorksSEIS will listen for seismic waves on the surface of Mars, shedding light on the interior structure of the Red Planet.
A number of physical phenomena can create seismic waves, including marsquakes, meteorites striking the surface, landslides, or even the pressure of the wind on the surface. Weather phenomena, such as dust devils, can also generate seismic waves.
Waves Change as they TravelIn the way that light changes when it passes through water or glass, seismic waves change when they pass through the interior of a planet. How the waves change depends on the material that the interior is made of. SEIS tells scientists how the interior of Mars changes waves, helping them figure out which material changed it.
Waves Tell StoriesWaves from a large quake can travel long distances and pass through many different types of material inside a planet. All of those different materials alter the wave in their own way. To understand what the inside of a planet is really like, SEIS has the ability to listen to a host of different variations in seismic waves clearly. This helps it detect lots of detail about the structure of the layers that changed the waves.
Scientists believe that areas 620 to 1,250 miles (1,000 to 2,000 kilometers) from InSight’s landing site, like the area around Elysium Mons, have experienced volcanism and quakes 1 to 10 million years ago. That’s recent for a planet! InSight's seismometer will be able to detect the plume of the volcano if seismic waves pass through it.