Mars: seismic data from the red planet reveal for the first time what its crust, mantle and core are


Seismic data collected by NASA on Mars reveals for the first time details about the interior of the red planet and the depth and composition of its crust, mantle, and core.

Thus, according to NASA in a statement, the Martian crust would be "thinner than expected" and could have two or even three sublayers. According to the space agency, it would reach 20 kilometers deep if it had two and 37 if there were three. Under the crust, a 1,560-kilometer-thick mantle would in turn be located, while the core of Mars would have a radius of 1,830 kilometers.

Researchers from the University of Zurich and the Federal Polytechnic School of Zurich (Switzerland) have used data from the InSight mission to determine what the internal structure of Mars is like, through the records of its 'martemots'. Thus, according to the aforementioned Swiss university in a note, scientists have concluded that the crust under InSight, near the Martian equator, is between 25 and 45 kilometers thick, similar to the Earth's crust under Western Europe.

Underneath there would be a mantle with a solid rock lithosphere much thicker than that of Earth: on Mars, this layer would have a depth of 400 to 600 kilometers, while on Earth it reaches a maximum of 250. This, according to scientists, could explain the fact that there is no evidence that Mars has tectonic plates, but that it is apparently made up of a single plate.

In addition, and for the first time, according to the academic institution, researchers have been able to estimate the size of the Martian core using seismic waves. According to his calculations, it would have a radius of about 1,840 km, more or less half that of Earth. Knowing its radius will now allow scientists to calculate its density.

According to Simon Stähler, one of the researchers in the study, "if the radius of the nucleus is large, the density must be relatively low", which suggests that the nucleus of Mars would contain a high proportion of lighter elements, in addition to iron and nickel: sulfur, oxygen, carbon, and hydrogen. In addition, research would confirm that the core of Mars is liquid, although the red planet no longer has a magnetic field like Earth's.

On the other hand, the relatively large size of the core of Mars would rule out that the planet has a lower mantle like the Earth's. "Mineralogically, the Martian mantle is a simpler version of the Earth's mantle, " concludes another of the researchers, Amir Khan. However, seismology reveals differences in its chemical composition with respect to the Earth's mantle.

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