CM – Marsquakes provide an in-depth look at Red Planet


In this undated photo, which NASA made available on Thursday, July 22, 2021, clouds are moving over the dome-covered SEIS seismometer of the InSight lander on the surface of Mars. The earthquake measuring device enables the first detailed look into the interior of the red planet and reveals a surprisingly thin crust and a molten core. In a series of articles published in July 2021, scientists reported that the Martian crust is within the Earth’s thickness range. Mars???? Meanwhile, the Earth’s mantle is about half the size of our own much larger planet, while the core – measured from the dusty surface to dead center – is more than 1,000 miles smaller. (NASA / JPL-Caltech via AP)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) – A quake gauge on Mars provides the first detailed look inside the red planet, revealing a surprisingly thin crust and hot molten core under the cold surface.

In a series of articles published this week, scientists reported that the Martian crust is within the Earth’s thickness range. The Martian mantle between the crust and the core is about half as thick as that of the earth. And the core of Mars is in the upper range of what scientists expected, despite being smaller than the core of our own planet, almost twice the size.

These new studies confirm that the Martian core has melted. However, according to the international research teams, more research is needed to know whether Mars has a solid inner core like Earth’s that is surrounded by a molten outer core.

The results are based on about 35 Mars quakes caused by a French seismometer on NASA’s InSight stationary lander, which arrived on Mars in 2018. The dome-shaped seismometer has actually recorded 733 marsquakes so far, but the 35 with magnitudes of 3.0 to 4.0 served as the basis for these studies. Most of the sizeable quakes originated in a volcanic region 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) away where lava may have flowed millions of years ago.

Mark Panning of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who participated in the crustal study, said , even the largest Mars quakes are so weak that they can hardly be felt on earth. He hopes for “the big one”, who would facilitate the processing of the data and the definition of the interior of Mars.

Current measurements show that the Martian crust may reach a depth of 20 to 37 kilometers; the mantle extends for nearly 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers); and the relatively light core, 1,137 miles (1,830 kilometers) in radius.

In comparison, the earth’s crust ranges from a few miles (kilometers) below the oceans to more than 45 miles (70 kilometers) below the Himalayas. Earth is almost twice the size of Mars.

« By starting from a cartoon understanding of what the interior of Mars looks like and putting real numbers on it … we can really expand the family tree of understanding, » said Panning as the rocky planet of our solar system formed.

Its mission has been extended for another two years and InSight has been hit by a power crisis in the past few months. Dust covered its solar panels just as Mars approached the farthest point in its orbit around the sun.

Flight controls have increased performance by using the lander’s robotic arm to release sand into the blowing wind to remove some of the dust from the panels. The seismometer continues to work, but all other scientific instruments are paused due to the current situation – with the exception of a German heat probe, which was declared dead in January after digging no more than half a meter into the planet.

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