They found that the moon was alive and kicking.
Others were vibrations from meteorite impacts. There were also shallow moonquakes, just a few miles beneath the surface.
The discovery suggests that the moon is still tectonically active, and raises the possibility that future lunar bases may be vulnerable to shallow moonquakes. The moon, likely born from a violent impact four billion years ago, is just over one-quarter the radius of Earth. Its diminutive size led to the belief that any internal heat should have escaped into space long ago.
Radio signals may be briefly lost. But then, the spacecraft's thrusters begin to fire, further slowing down the kilogramme spacecraft to a speed of just about 5 kph when it reaches the surface. Since there is no joystick back on Earth for this spacecraft, and no way to intervene if anything goes wrong, Hoffman described his emotions as mixed.
Hoffman, who is father to a two- and four-year-old, added that has "not been sleeping that great," though he said that might because of his rambunctious toddlers.
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But when the first signal arrives at GMT, hopefully showing that the lander set itself down, intact and upright, "I am totally going to unleash my inner four-year-old at that point," he said. Zurbuchen described InSight as "unique" because the waist-high lander contains instruments that were contributed by several European space agencies.
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The German Aerospace Center DLR provided a self-hammering mole that can burrow 16 five metres into the surface -- further than any instrument before -- to measure heat flow. Together, these instruments will use physics to study geological processes, said Bruce Banerdt, InSight's principal investigator at Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
By listening for tremors on Mars, whether from quakes or meteor impacts or even volcanic activity, scientists can learn more about its interior and reveal how the planet formed. Whereas sounds of deeper earthquakes may be too low for human hearing, he has calculated that judders near the surface could transmit audible noises of the cracking crust.
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There are, of course, more exotic explanations — ones that typically involve a government conspiracy. But as the writer points out, it seems unlikely that such noisy spy planes could have been developed and flown without being having been previously detected, or without showing up on satellite surveillance. After the reports on Saturday, some experts have claimed that they are most likely the sound of a falling meteor. The explanation can perhaps explain some of the historic cases. An mineralogy book contains the following account from a perplexed curate, for instance:.
I was very much surprised, now knowing from what such circumstances could arise: within a very short space of time afterwards, I was informed that a stone had fallen within yards of me. Yet in the end, none of the above offer a definitive explanation of the reports last weekend; for one thing, the noises were apparently too widespread to be attributed to sand dunes, giant waves, or even a meteor landing.