NASA’s InSight lander measures the size of the molten core of Mars using ‘Marsquakes’

In a very first such experiment, NASA’s InSight rover measured the size of the core of Mars by listening to the seismic energy of the red planets’ “ Marsquakes’ ‘, scientists told reporters this week at the virtual conference on lunar and planetary sciences in Houston, Texas. According to NASA, the Martian core which measures approximately 1,810 to 1,860 kilometers is half that of Earth, defying some of the previously anticipated measurements claimed by researchers. The core of Mars is “less dense than expected,” NASA said in a statement, adding that the red planet contains molten liquid iron.

According to research published in the journal Nature, NASA’s Insight has conducted an analysis of more than 500 earthquakes, deeply studying the fundamental layers of the Red Planet. Scientists have said that measuring the molten iron core of Mars and studying the crust, mantle and core of the neighboring planet are crucial to understanding its formation and evolution. The measurement will also help the scientific community determine the separation of Mars’ dense, metal-rich core from its rock mantle.

“Mars is influenced by the Sun’s gravitational pull. This causes a solid body tide with a bulge towards and away from the Sun (a concept similar to tides on Earth). However, for Mars, this bulge is much smaller, less than 1 centimeter (0.4 inches), “explained Dr. Charles Yoder, a planet specialist at NASA’s JPL. He added,” By measuring this bulge in the gravity field of Mars, we can determine the flexibility of Mars. Measuring Mars’ “internal elements” also allows us to explore the possibility that the nucleus is at least partially liquid.

[Image Credit: NASA]

[Image Credit: Twitter/ @EuroGeosciences]

Explore since 2018

NASA InSight Lander has been exploring the Martian surface since 2018 and has started recording the marsquakes which were relatively smaller. However, the spacecraft was able to record at least seismic waves traveling the straight line between the near-surface mars skimming and the earthquake. The tremors rebounded before they could even be picked up by the detectors. Insight’s compilation of the earthquake series data revealed that waves were sent between the mantle and the planet’s core at a speed of 500 seconds after the very first quake. NASA scientists were able to calculate the dimensions of the nucleus using the time difference in the direction of the waves and found the radius of the Red Planet to be approximately 1,810 to 1,860 kilometers. This implied that the interior of Mars is richer in lighter elements like oxygen and is less dense than the Earth.

[Image Credit: NASA]