For the first time in history, the internal structure of Mars as well as the characteristics of the planet’s core, mantle and crust were revealed. This achievement is due to the work of the InSight probe launched by the US space agency NASA in May 2018.
The instrument placed a seismometer (an instrument that detects ground motion) on the surface of the Red Planet to measure seismic activity – or “Martemotos”, as Martian seismometers were dubbed.
The waves produced by earthquakes vary in speed and size as they pass through different materials within a planet. Seismograph data on more than thirty aftershocks of Mars allowed the planet’s interior into focus.
The center of Mars, the geological layer at the center of the planet, is 3,660 kilometers in diameter, which is larger than previously thought. This suggests that the core, which is composed mostly of iron and nickel, is less dense than previously known, with lighter elements such as sulfur, oxygen, carbon and hydrogen representing an unexpectedly large proportion of the composition.
“The real significance of these discoveries is that, for the first time, we actually have measurements of the dimensions of the fundamental blocks of Mars,” said Bruce Bannert, a planetary geophysicist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the mission’s principal investigator. of insight.