An international team of researchers studying seismic data collected by NASA’s Insight spacecraft used it to calculate the size of Mars’ core.
So far, the only celestial bodies whose cores have been measured have been the Earth and the Moon. To make such measurements, the scientists used seismic data. In an attempt to figure out the size of Mars’ core, NASA sent Insight to the Red Planet. The mission landed near the planet’s equator back in 2018 and began listening for Marsquakes shortly thereafter. To date, sensors on board the ship have recorded seismic data for approximately 500 such events. The researchers found that most of these quakes are small compared to earthquakes. Although about 50 of them were in magnitude 2 to 4. This is strong enough to be used to measure the interior of the planet. Before measuring the core, the Insight mission data was used to measure the depth and thickness of the layers of the Martian crust.
Many measurements are required to use seismic data to measure the interior of a planetary body. Sensors can tell you where such waves begin and end. They also provide data on how long it takes for a wave to travel through a given part of the planet. This allows you to calculate its density. Using this data, the researchers were able to measure the depth of the core-mantle boundary in many places, which allowed them to calculate the size of the core.Scientists estimate its radius to be from 1810 to 1860 km, which is about half the size of the Earth’s core. This discovery is somewhat unexpected – previous studies have suggested that it will be much larger. New evidence suggests that the core should contain more light elements than previously thought.
The group of researchers plans to discuss their findings at the Conference on the Study of the Moon and Planets this year, which will be held virtually due to the pandemic. One of the scientists, Simon Stehler, provided a pre-recorded presentation for everyone. In the near future, the team intends to publish their results in a peer-reviewed journal.