NASA’s InSight Spacecraft landed on Mars in 2018. The rovers before that have been focusing only on the surface of Mars, but InSight aimed to study the interiors of the red planet for the first time.
Three papers have been published in the journal Science based on the seismometer’s data.
It included data about Mars’s crust, core and mantle, properties, and composition. Moreover, it affirmed that the center of Mars is molten.
Earth’s outer core is molten, while its inner core is solid; scientists continue their study to understand if the structure is the same for Mars, wrote Insight Mission News.
Bruce Banerdt, InSight’s principal investigator of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, said, “When we first started putting together the concept of the mission more than a decade ago, the information in these papers is what we hoped to get at the end.
This represents the culmination of all the work and worries over the past decade.”
Seismic waves help determine the interior structure of the earth, revealing boundaries in the process of moving deep underground while changing the speed and direction of the waves.
Insight’s similar measurement of the “martian temblors” have led scientists to find layers even inside Mars, including the boundary of its core, which amounted to roughly 2,300 miles, wrote the scientists in their paper “Seismic detection of the martian core.
Mark Panning, a seismologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, who co-authored the studies, said, “With the great team we’ve got, we were able to dig out all of the information that we wanted to from the data that we did get and that we’re still getting.”
The instrument team, led from France and the UK, has estimated that the rigid part’s outer crust is either 20km or 39km thick.
The surface geology of the rest of the planet has an average thickness of 24km and 72km. However, the earth’s average crustal thickness is 15-20km. Only some specific areas like the Himalayas can reach 70 km, wrote the BBC in its analysis.
Dr. Sanne Cottaar from Cambridge University, who is not part of the research team, commented that the results are astonishing. It is difficult even to study the small quakes that occur at Mars.
Signals show that the “Marsquakes” occurring are starting nearly halfway down the surface at a depth of about 1,560km – and that it’s in a liquid state.
It doesn’t even go beyond Magnitude 4, which would be visible to the human eye only within a few kilometers of the event’s epicenter.
“Marsquakes are very, very faint. It’s much more challenging than doing seismology on earth. Mission scientists have also had to develop methods for working with just the one seismometer represented by the InSight lander.
So to then see this data come out, and for them to be able to look inside the planet with that data, is quite impressive,” Dr. Sanne said.