Humans have never set foot on Mars, but that’s not stopping scientists from doing their best to understand what it might be like when that day eventually comes. Researchers using data from NASA’s InSight lander are taking that idea to the extreme by testing what a particularly intense Marsquake might feel like using a special room-scale simulator.
As NASA details in a new blog post, the so-called “shake room” allows scientists to feel an ultra-amplified version of the shaking detected by the InSight lander’s seismometer, and it definitely looks intense.
Earthquakes can vary greatly in intensity but they generally follow a predictable pattern. In a new video, researchers from ETH Zurich demonstrate how a room shakes when an earthquake occurs, and then follow up by showcasing how quakes from the Moon and Mars produce different kinds of shaking.
The moonquake and marsquake are greatly amplified in the demonstration — the intensity of the moonquake is multiplied by 1 million and the marsquake by 10 million — but the tests offer researchers the chance to better understand how quakes on different worlds vary from those on our home planet.
The InSight lander still has a long road ahead of it, and its instruments will continue collecting data for many months to come. Its seismic tools will likely record varying types of marsquakes as its mission progresses, offering new data points that the researchers will use to paint a clearer picture of geological activity on the planet.
When human space travelers eventually travel to the Red Planet in the decades to come, they’ll have to grapple with many different challenges, and knowing when and how the ground might move below their feet will be helpful.