Data from NASA’s InSight Lander from Mars helped Rice University seismologists direct measurements of the planet’s three subsurface boundaries from the crust to the core.
The data has significant importance to scientists.
Alan Levander, a co-author of the study that was recently published in Geophysical Research Letters, stated:
“Ultimately, it may help us understand planetary formation.”
The thickness of the red planet’s crust and the depth of its core have been previously estimated with various models.
However, Levender added that the InSight data helped the researchers make direct measurements, which can be used to verify and improve existing models.
Sizhuang Deng, a co-author of the study, said:
“In the absence of plate tectonics on Mars, its early history is mostly preserved compared with Earth.”
“The depth estimates of Martian seismic boundaries can provide indications to understand better its past as well as the formation and evolution of terrestrial planets in general,” he added.
Discovering data about Mars’ insides and the processes that led to its formation are among InSight’s priorities.
How It Was Done
InSight is a robotic lander that reached Mars in November 2018.
The probe’s seismometer helps scientists analyze faint rumblings inside the planet, just like doctors listen to a patients’ heartbeats with stethoscopes.
Seismometers measure pulses caused by seismic waves.
The principle is similar to circular ripples that show where a pebble hit the surface of a pond.
Seismic waves can flow through planets, making the location and size of the movements feel like earthquakes (which are known as marsquakes on Mars).
InSight’s seismometer registered over 170 such waves from February to September 2019.
The new data is the first step towards advanced mapping of the red planet’s geology!