Data from Insight reveals the size of Mars’ heart

This artist’s concept shows the InSight surface, its sensors, cameras and instruments. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

An international team of researchers studying seismic data collected by NASA’s Insight spacecraft has used the data to measure the size of Mars’ heart. The group plans to discuss its findings at this year’s Lunar Science and Planning Conference, which will be held almost entirely as a result of the pandemic. As an introduction to the conference, team member Simon Stähler has given a pre-recorded presentation to those interested. The team plans to submit their findings to a peer-reviewed journal soon.

Until now, the Earth and the moon were the only square bodies whose rights were measured. To make such measurements, scientists have used seismic data from sensors that detect the sounds made by an earthquake. Wanting to do the same for Mars, NASA sent Insight to the red planet – it landed near the planet’s equator back in 2018 and began listening for Marsquakes shortly thereafter. To date, sensors on board the craft have captured seismic data for about 500 earthquakes. The researchers have found that most of the earthquakes are very small compared to those on Earth, although about 50 of them have ranged in magnitude from 2 to 4 – strong enough to measure the interior of the planet. Before the heart was measured, data from Insight were used to measure the depth and thickness of layers of Martian bark.

To use seismic data to measure the interior of a planetary group requires a lot of measurement. The sensors can tell where such waves start and end, which indicates how long it takes for a wave to pass through a particular part of the planet. This allows density to be worked out. Using this data, the researchers were able to measure the depth of the boundary between the heart and the heart at many places, which allowed them to work out the size of the heart – a radius is between 1,810 and 1,860 kilometers, making it about half the size of the Earth’s heart. This result is surprising – prior research had suggested it would be bigger. The new data suggest that the core needs to have more light elements than previously thought.


Rice researchers use InSight for Mars depth measurements


Further information:
Seismic testing of the Martian Core by InSight, www.hou.usra.edu/meetings/lpsc2021/pdf/1545.pdf

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Citation: Data from Insight reveals the heart size of Mars (2021, March 19) retrieved March 19, 2021 from https://phys.org/news/2021-03-insight-reveals-size-mars-core. html

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