Space Science Reviews

, 215:13 | Cite as

Mars’ Background Free Oscillations

  • Y. NishikawaEmail author
  • P. Lognonné
  • T. Kawamura
  • A. Spiga
  • E. Stutzmann
  • M. Schimmel
  • T. Bertrand
  • F. Forget
  • K. Kurita
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. The InSight Mission to Mars II


Observations and inversion of the eigenfrequencies of free oscillations constitute powerful tools to investigate the internal structure of a planet. On Mars, such free oscillations can be excited by atmospheric pressure and wind stresses from the Martian atmosphere, analogous to what occurs on Earth. Over long periods and on a global scale, this phenomenon may continuously excite Mars’ background free oscillations (MBFs), which constitute the so-called Martian hum. However, the source exciting MBFs is related both to the global-scale atmospheric circulation on Mars and to the variations in pressure and wind at the planetary boundary layer, for which no data are available.

To overcome this drawback, we focus herein on a global-scale source and use results of simulations based on General Circular Models (GCMs). GCMs can predict and reproduce long-term, global-scale Martian pressure and wind variations and suggest that, contrary to what happens on Earth, daily correlations in the Martian hum might be generated by the solar-driven GCM. After recalling the excitation terms, we calculate MBFs by using GCM computations and estimate the contribution to the hum made by the global atmospheric circulation. Although we work at the lower limit of MBF signals, the results indicate that the signal is likely to be periodic, which would allow us to use more efficient stacking theories than can be applied to Earth’s hum. We conclude by discussing the perspectives for the InSight SEIS instrument to detect the Martian hum. The amplitude of the MBF signal is on the order of nanogals and is therefore hidden by instrumental and thermal noise, which implies that, provided the predicted daily coherence in hum excitation is present, the InSight SEIS seismometer should be capable of detecting the Martian hum after monthly to yearly stacks.


Mars Planetary free oscillation GCM Seismometer Normal mode InSight 



The authors are grateful for the support of CNES for the development of the SEIS experiment and its scientific support, and to the ANR for supporting the project through ANR SEISMARS. Y.K. acknowledges the support of the CNES and JSPC for his Ph.D. support. P.L. and A.S. acknowledge the support of IUF. This is IPGP contribution number 4010 and InSight contribution number 74.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Y. Nishikawa
    • 1
    Email author
  • P. Lognonné
    • 1
  • T. Kawamura
    • 1
  • A. Spiga
    • 2
  • E. Stutzmann
    • 3
  • M. Schimmel
    • 4
  • T. Bertrand
    • 5
  • F. Forget
    • 2
  • K. Kurita
    • 6
  1. 1.Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, Sorbonne Paris CitéUniversité Paris DiderotParisFrance
  2. 2.Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique (LMD/IPSL)Sorbonne Université, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, École Polytechnique, École Normale SupérieureParisFrance
  3. 3.Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, CNRS-UMR 7580University Paris 7ParisFrance
  4. 4.Institute of Earth Sciences Jaume Almera – CSICBarcelonaSpain
  5. 5.Ames Research CenterNational Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)Mountain ViewUSA
  6. 6.Earthquake Research InstituteThe University of TokyoTokyoJapan

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