The great mystery of the core of Mars solved

Data collected by NASA’s InSight instrument reveals that Mars has a liquid core. The new research is critical to improving our understanding of Mars.

NASA’s InSight mission began studying Mars in 2018 and continued to collect data from the planet until its last breath in December 2022. This wealth of scientific data continues to inform researchers by providing new insights into the planet’s interior. A new study, while examining the data, reveals that Mars most likely has a liquid core.

Mars core found to be liquid

NASA’s InSight rover had multiple instruments to study Mars: the robotic probe, the seismometer (SEIS), the radiometer, the thermal probe, and the RISE (Rotation and Interior Structure Experiment). RISE was designed to measure the smallest changes in Mars‘ rotation and send its measurements to radio telescopes on Earth. A new study published in the journal Nature examined data accumulated by the RISE instrument during the first two-and-a-half years of the InSight mission and detected a resonance that, according to scientists, could only be explained if Mars had a liquid core.

The RISE team at the Royal Belgian Observatory announced that before examining the planet’s inner core, the radio transmitter must pinpoint where InSight landed on the Martian surface. Data received by RISE was transmitted to the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), which photographed the area and confirmed its position with remarkable accuracy.

The collected data confirms the information

Scientists have long suspected that the core of Mars is liquid, and RISE seems to have confirmed this theory with real data taken “in situ”. The instrument measured nutations, which are periodic oscillations (also known as yaws) of the planet’s axis of rotation in space. The final data confirmed data previously recorded by the SEIS instrument, which detected a mark on Mars’ rotation that could only be explained by the presence of a liquid core at its center. The RISE data were instrumental in determining the radius of the core and estimating the density difference between the mantle and the core. The core is believed to be composed of an alloy of liquid iron and sulfur.

“Using the new data, we determined the radius of the liquid core, validated the value extracted from the seismic data, and estimated the density difference between the mantle and core,” says Attilio Rivoldini, an expert on the interior of Mars. Moreover, we were able to determine the shape of the core, which could only be explained if mass anomalies deep within the mantle. Taken together, these new findings increase our understanding of the internal structure, formation and subsequent evolution of Mars.” By analyzing the entire RISE dataset, the team hopes they will soon be able to reveal more not only the interior, but also the dynamics of the Martian atmosphere and its interaction with the planet’s glaciers.

Ece Nagihan

Hi, I'm Ece. I am a writer for Expat Guide Turkey and I strive to create the best content for you. To contact me, you can send an e-mail to Happy reading!

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