Jul 22, 2021

NASA finally knows what is beneath the surface of Mars

Posted by in category: space

“The fact that we recorded it confirmed that the core is liquid.”

What you may not realize, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory geophysicist Mark Panning tells Inverse, is that those diagrams “are cartoons and guesses,” based on gravitational measurements. The only planet whose structure scientists actually understand in detail is Earth.

We know the innards of Earth through seismology measurements — something that hasn’t been available for other planets. This was true until just recently: According to a trio of papers published Thursday in Science, researchers can finally confirm Mars has a large liquid metal core.

Panning is the JPL project scientist for the NASA InSight mission, which landed a seismometer on the Red Planet in 2018 and has been recording Marsquakes ever since. NASA’s InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) lander was designed to reveal the inner structure of Mars through seismological and thermal readings taken from a landing site on Elysium Planitia, a plain along the Martian equator.

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