A Mars quake-measuring instrument is unveiling the red planet’s subsurface for the first time, revealing an unexpectedly thin crust and a boiling molten core underneath the icy surface.
Scientists announced this week in a series of studies that the Martian crust is within the thickness range of Earth’s crust. Between the crust and the core, the Martian mantle is about half as thick as Earth’s. The Martian core is also larger than scientists expected, while being smaller than the core of our own almost twice-as-large planet.
These new findings back up previous findings that the Martian core is molten. According to multinational study teams, further investigation is needed to determine whether Mars has a solid inner core like Earth’s, surrounded by a molten outer core.
Scientists suggested Friday that stronger marsquakes could aid in the identification of any numerous core layers.
The findings are based on data from a French seismometer aboard NASA’s InSight stationary lander, which arrived on Mars in 2018. Although the domed seismometer has detected 733 marsquakes to date, the 35 with magnitudes ranging from 3.0 to 4.0 served as the foundation for these investigations. The majority of the large quakes originated 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometres) distant in a volcanic region where lava may have flowed millions of years ago.
Even the largest marsquakes, according to Mark Panning of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, are so feeble that they would scarcely be noticed on Earth. He’s hoping for “the big one,” which would make data processing and defining the Martian interior easier.
“Fingers crossed,” Panning remarked, “we’d love to see more bigger events.”
According to current estimations, Mars’ crust might reach depths of 12 to 23 miles (20 to 37 kilometres); the mantle could extend over 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometres); and the relatively light core could have a radius of 1,137 miles (1,830 kilometers).
The Earth’s crust, on the other hand, varies in depth from a few miles (kilometres) beneath the oceans to more than 45 miles (70 kilometres) beneath the Himalayas. The Earth is nearly twice the size of Mars. (space-ufo)
“We are able to truly broaden the family tree of knowing” how our solar system’s rocky planet originated by going from a cartoon idea of what the inside of Mars looks like to putting real numbers on it, Panning said.
InSight has been beset with a power shortage in recent months, despite having its mission extended for another two years. Just as Mars was approaching the farthest point in its orbit around the sun, dust covered its solar panels.
The lander’s robot arm was used to discharge sand into the blowing wind to clear off some of the dust on the panels, boosting power. The seismometer has continued to function, but all other science equipment have been put on hold due to the power outage — with the exception of a German heat probe, which was declared dead in January after failing to penetrate more than a few feet (half a metre) into the planet.
The three research, as well as a companion piece, were published in the journal Science on Thursday. (space-ufo)