A new study published in Geophic Research Letters AGU reports the first discovery of a major remote earthquake using a network of pressure sensors tied to stratospheric balloons, once applied to Venus, whose hot, dense and aggressive atmosphere limits our ability to sense earthquakes on Venus from the planet's surface.
When an earthquake occurs, vibrating land sends infrasounds high into the atmosphere, where they are caught by special balloons that float in the stratosphere for several months after launch; with a diameter of about 11 m and a weight of 30 kg, they can carry up to four instruments.
The monitoring of seismic activity on other planets is crucial to the study of their internal structures, but, unlike the Earth, planetary scientists cannot rely on a global network of ground sensors; instead, they use the atmosphere.
Seismology is a relatively new phenomenon in the stratosphere; aerostats are mostly used to study the atmosphere. Previous studies have confirmed that these balloon sensors can catch small local earthquakes, but until recently a network of multiple balloons has not detected large earthquakes at a long distance.