Sweet Surprise: Look inside Mars reveals layer of red planet resembles a three layer cake


Sweet Surprise: The first sight of the NASA Insight lander inside Mars reveals that the crust of the red planet is similar to a three-layer cake

  • The seismometer of the lander has recorded more than 480 earthquakes since April 2019.
  • The difference in how seismic waves are transferred allows scientists to evaluate the size and structure of the crust
  • They believe that the crust of Mars is about 23 miles thick, which is thicker than Earth’s
  • Seismic activity has almost stopped since June with only four earthquakes

The data is returned to Earth from NASA’s Insight Lander, which suggests that the layer of Mars is composed of three cake-like layers.

Located near the equator of Mars, the robotic lander’s ultra-sensitive seismometer, known as SEIS, has recorded hundreds of ‘Marsquakes’ over the past two years.

Each earthquake emits two sets of seismic waves and allows researchers to begin calculating the size and structure of the planet’s crust, mantle, and core, analyzing the difference in how those waves move.

“We have enough data to answer some of these big questions,” Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientist Bruce Bannard told Nature.

Launched in 2018, the Insight Mission has for the first time empowered scientists inside a planet other than Earth.

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Analysis of primary and secondary waves caused by hundreds of marshes suggests that the red planetary layer is composed of three 'cake-like' layers

Analysis of primary and secondary waves caused by hundreds of marshes suggests that the red planetary layer is composed of three ‘cake-like’ layers

Earth’s crust is divided into three satellites of rock: metamorphic, igneous and sedimentary.

Scientists had similarly structured the layer of Mars but until now, it had no data to work with.

As reported in Nature, it is possible that there are only two layers on Mars, but a three-layer crust aligns with the analysis of Martian meteorites.

By comparing Marsquake’s primary and secondary waves, they have reduced the crust which is about 23 miles thick on average, and its thickest is closer to 42.

NASA's Insight lander came to Mars in 2018, but its 'Mole' probe has made drilling under the surface difficult

NASA’s Insight lander came to Mars in 2018, but its ‘Mole’ probe has made drilling under the surface difficult

Insight's super-sensitive seismometer, known as SEIS, has recorded more than 480 marshakes.  Analyzing the primary and secondary waves from these lakes, researchers believe that the crust of Mars is about 23 miles thick

Insight’s super-sensitive seismometer, known as SEIS, has recorded more than 480 marshakes. Analyzing the primary and secondary waves from these lakes, researchers believe that the crust of Mars is about 23 miles thick

It is much thicker than the Earth, with a crust that varies about 3 miles below the oceans, 18 miles below the continents.

In November 2018, InSight (miniature for internal exploration using seismic investigation, geodesy and heat transport) arrived on Mars.

Its probe, called ‘Mole’, was designed to dig below the surface and take in the temperature of the planet – but unexpected properties in Marshall soil made progress difficult.

Other instruments on the lander are fully functional, Venus — including a seismometer, provided by the French National Space Agency, Center National d’Tude Spatialus.

Since April 2019, SEIS has recorded more than 480 quakes. Shocks are relatively mild, with a magnitude not exceeding 3.7.

“It’s a little surprising that we didn’t see any major incidents,” said seismologist Mark Panning of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Panning says that it is not yet clear whether Mars is more stable than Earth or if Insight landed during a quiet interval.

Earthquakes were diurnal for some time, but abruptly halted in late June – exactly when the planet entered its thinnest season of the year.

The seismometer has shielding, but it is possible that the wind is so strong that it shakes the ground and causes legitimate shock.

Researchers expect more major quakes to follow, giving greater insight into the planet’s inner layers.

Banerjee said, “Sometimes you get a glimpse of amazing information, but most of the time you tease out what nature has told you.”

‘It is trying to follow a trail of difficult clues than the answer presented to us in a well-wrapped package.’

What are these major devices?

Lander that can explain how the Earth was formed: inset lander set to land on 26th Mars

Lander that can explain how the Earth was formed: inset lander set to land on 26th Mars

Three key tools will allow the Insight lander to take the ‘pulse’ of the red planet:

Earthquake: Insight lander carries a Seismometer, SEIS, who listens to the pulse of Mars.

The seismometer records waves traveling through the internal structure of a planet.

The study of seismic waves tells us what waves can form.

On Mars, scientists suspect the culprits may be swamps, or meteorites hitting the surface.

Heat check: The Insight’s heat flow test, HP3, bursts deeper than any other scoop, drill, or probe before it.

It will check how much heat is still coming out of Mars.

Radio Antennas: Like Earth, Mars rotates slightly on its axis.

To study this, two radio antennas, part of the RIES equipment, track the location of the lander very accurately.

It helps scientists test the reflexes of the planet and tells them how the deep internal structure around the Sun affects the motion of the planet.

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