There are a lot of mysteries to the cosmos, but at least one of them may be a bit closer to being solved. Researchers may now have some clues to how Mars was formed thanks to data from NASA‘s InSight spacecraft. The information pertains to the rock and soil on the planet’s surface, with some seismic activity on the Red Planet offering up some clues to what lies below the surface of one of the most interesting and mysterious planets in the Solar System.
According to Science Magazine, (via IGN), researchers studying the InSight spacecraft have been able to detect boundaries in rock tens and hundreds of kilometers below the planet’s crust. That crust also turns out to be quite thin with the planet’s mantle also proving to be a cooler temperature than the molten iron core of Mars would suggest. What’s interesting about this information is that it suggests that what is now the planet Mars cooled itself through use of plate tectonics with a pattern of “upwelling mantle rock and subducting crust”.
The data also revealed that Mars may have a much thinner crust than what we have on Earth and that the Red Planet may also be made up of two or three different layers. Researchers will need more data in order to further develop their theories and findings, something that has thus far proven to be a bit of a challenge. The data comes from seismic activity on the planet, but wind on the planet have made it difficult to detect some seismic activity. Dust on the solar panels have also forced the team to turn off the craft’s robotic arm, which they need to use in order to try to get a heat probe pushed further into the surface. The heat probe ended up stuck in soil that had been expected to crumble when the probe was inserted. Mars has also thwarted the process a bit in terms of the strength of its “marsquakes”. The report indicated that there hadn’t been on larger than a magnitude 4.5, something that is a bit unusual, though could be attributed to various factors, including the size of Mars’ faults and also the consistency of the planet’s crust.
Still, researchers are hopeful they will get lucky and get much more information.
“We’re looking forward to another whole pile of event detections,” Bruce Banerdt, InSight’s principal investigator and a geophysicist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory says.
What do you think about this new information about Mars? Let us know in the comments.