The device InSight told details about the internal structure of Mars

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The device InSight told details about the internal structure of Mars
The device InSight told details about the internal structure of Mars

In the 21st century, scientists are increasingly making important scientific discoveries. It took researchers about 100 years to measure the magnitude of the planet Earth's core. After the Apollo space missions, scientists were able to determine the size of the moon much faster - in just 40 years. Today, mankind is studying Mars and it was possible to determine the characteristics of its core in a record 2 years. At the same time, scientists were able to find out details about the crust and mantle of the planet, which is also important information. Thanks to the new data, researchers will be able to better plan future missions and, with luck, send people to Mars faster and find alien life there. As part of this article, I propose to find out how scientists managed to study the internal structure of the planet and finally find out what is happening under its surface.

InSight Mission Achievements

Scientists were able to study the interior of Mars thanks to data collected by the InSight spacecraft. It has been operating on Mars since 2018 and its main instrument is SEIS - a seismometer that is capable of recording even the weakest earthquakes (although it is more correct to say marsquakes). He first recorded seismic activity on Mars in March 2019. Since then, there have been more such events, and at the moment, researchers are aware of more than 700 Marsquakes.

InSight spacecraft for Mars exploration

Internal structure of Mars

Marsquakes generate seismic waves. In simple terms, these are vibrations that pass through different layers of the interior of Mars. Depending on the thickness, density and other characteristics of these layers, the speed and other properties of seismic waves change. And it was on the basis of observing these changes that scientists were able to make assumptions about the size and characteristics of the core, mantle and crust of the planet Mars. It is important to note that initially, scientists did not fully believe that such a method would work in relation to the Red Planet. The fact is that it does not have a global magnetic field - this could indicate that the core of Mars has long cooled and become solid. But the doubts were in vain.

Like our planet, Mars has a crust, mantle and core.

Before continuing, let's remember what the crust, mantle and core are. It is customary to call the crust the hard shell of the Earth, Mars and other planets. The mantle is the layer that lies between the crust and the core. The core is the central part of the planets, which is usually heated to very high temperatures.

In the course of studying the data collected by the InSight apparatus, scientists were able to find out that the thickness of the Martian crust is from 24 to 72 kilometers. For comparison, the thickness of the earth's crust, even on the continents, does not exceed 40 kilometers. The mantle of Mars goes 500 kilometers deep, which is also surprising - the earth's lithosphere (includes the mantle) is only 100 kilometers thick. The Martian core also came as a big surprise to scientists. It turned out that its radius is equal to 1,830 kilometers and turned out to be liquid - the version of an extinct core turned out to be erroneous.

Schematic representation of the structure of Mars

The future of the InSight mission

Once again, I would like to note that the InSight apparatus has only worked for about 3 years and has already helped scientists to make such important discoveries for science. But during operation, this device faced various problems many times. One of the most serious occurred in early March 2019, when the HP3 drilling rig was stuck at a depth of 30 centimeters. It was reported that she stumbled on a rock or stuck together sand, which made it difficult to retrieve the instrument from the Martian soil.To save the device, various actions were taken, including the use of a robotic arm.

In March 2019, the InSight rig gets stuck in Martian soil

This was a big problem, but not the most serious one. Indeed, in April 2021, the InSight device ceased to receive the energy necessary for operation, because its panels for capturing the sun's rays were under a dense layer of sand. There is no tool for cleaning solar panels because they were usually cleaned naturally by the wind. But the InSight apparatus is located in the Elysian Plain, where winds are very rare. At the moment, the InSight mission is under threat of completion, but there is still hope for a fix.

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