For years, the interior of the red planet is a large mystery, and NASA even sent a lander called InSight (Interior exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy, and Heat Transport) to the red planet to learn about that. Now, a NASA study of its scientific results revealed the insides of the red planet. Let’s get started.
Firstly, the crust contains two or three sub-layers and can be anywhere from 20 to 37 kilometers deep. Unfortunately, it is still unclear whether the results are leaning toward two or three layers.
However, scientists are more confident about knowing the details of the inner parts. The bottom of the mantle is about 1560 kilometers below the surface, and its core has a radius of about 1830 kilometers.
How Did They Discover that?
To understand how they map the interior of the red planet (as for any planet), we must first learn a little about the specialties of these seismic waves. Moreover, P-waves usually travel faster than S-waves, meaning they arrive at detectors sooner than the S-waves. This is one of the main differences between these two waves. Moreover, P-waves can move through liquids, while S-waves can’t. When they encounter liquid, they bounce back out instead. That means the longer it takes for the S-waves to reach the surface again, the deeper the core is (given that the speed of the waves is known), and if it is inexistent in a particular layer, this layer is molten.
The seismic waves can also be used to find out the thickness of the crust, or even more advanced features such as the density of the core.
This study by NASA provided valuable data on how the red planet works in general, as it reveals just how large the layers beneath the surface are. Hopefully, more data will come to solve other mysteries, such as how many layers the crust has.
References and Credits
- (n.d.). Seismic Waves. Retrieved July 23, 2021, from https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/guides/zswkjty/revision/3
- (n.d.). What Is Seismology? Retrieved July 23, 2021, from http://www.geo.mtu.edu/UPSeis/waves.html
- Naomi, Hartono. (2021, July 23). NASA’s InSight Reveals the Deep Interior of Mars. Retrieved July 23, 2021, from https://www.nasa.gov/feature/jpl/nasa-s-insight-reveals-the-deep-interior-of-mars