A Dozen ‘Marsquakes’ Clue Scientists In to the Red Planet’s Interior

Home Technology A Dozen ‘Marsquakes’ Clue Scientists In to the Red Planet’s Interior
A Dozen ‘Marsquakes’ Clue Scientists In to the Red Planet’s Interior
A dusty selfie of the InSight later, made up of a mosaic of 14 images taken in Spring 2021.
A dusty selfie of the InSight later, made up of a mosaic of 14 images taken in Spring 2021.
Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The first direct seismic observations of Mars by NASA’s InSight Lander have been reported, giving scientists a tantalizing look at the composition of the rocky world currently 236 million miles from us.

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The observations are detailed in three studies, all published today in Science. The first study explored the thickness and makeup of Mars’ crust; the second study examined InSight data on the upper mantle—the bit just below the planet’s crust; and the third study investigated the Martian core. All told, the researchers were able to put set ranges on the thickness of each layer of Mars, their densities, and get a gist of interactions between the layers. Perhaps just as importantly, the team’s findings can be compared to Earth’s geoscience, helping the researchers better understand planetary evolution, a major theme of planetary science as space agencies continue to look at the makeup of other bodies in our solar system to better understand our own.

“These three studies provide important constraints on the present-day structure of Mars and are also key for improving our understanding of how the planet formed billions of years ago and evolved through time,” wrote Sanne Cottaar and Paula Koelemeijer, seismologists at the University of Cambridge and Royal Holloway, University of London, respectively, in a Perspectives article on the new information.

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