Noise detected by NASA’s Insight probe may indicate an active volcanic planet

Scientists now know that things on Mars happen fairly regularly, adding to mounting evidence that the Red Planet is far from dying.

New research has revealed previously undetected earthquakes beneath the surface of Mars, which experts believe provides clues It houses a sea of ​​magma in its mantle.

They believe the “Mars earthquakes” are best explained by persistent volcanic activity beneath Mars’ dusty and barren surface, and they believe the planet is more volcanically active and seismic than originally thought.

Experts have long believed there isn’t much going on inside Mars, but researchers at the Australian National University made their discovery after combing through data from NASA’s Mars Insight probe.

New research has revealed previously undetected earthquakes beneath the surface of Mars, which experts believe is evidence that it harbors a sea of ​​magma in its mantle. Pictured, an artist’s view of the InSight rover, which has “captured the heartbeat of Mars” since landing on the planet in 2018.

Using two unconventional methods recently used in geophysics, experts have discovered 47 new seismic events originating from an area on Mars called Cerberus Fossae (pictured).

Australian National University researchers made their discovery after combing through data from NASA’s Mars Insight probe. Shows Insight landing site and waveforms from two Mars earthquake

Was Mars home to liquid water?

The history of water on Mars dates back to the Mariner 9 mission, which arrived in 1971. It revealed evidence of water erosion in riverbeds and valleys, as well as weather fronts and fog.

The Vikings who followed revolutionized our ideas about water on Mars by showing how floods broke through dams and dug deep valleys.

Mars is currently in the middle of the Ice Age, and prior to this study, scientists believed that liquid water could not exist on its surface.

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In June 2013, Curiosity found strong evidence that water was drinkable once it was poured on Mars.

In September of that year, the first Earth scoop analyzed by Curiosity showed that the microelements on the planet’s surface contained 2% water by weight.

In 2017, scientists gave their best estimate of water on Mars, claiming it contains more liquid H2O than the Arctic Ocean — and the planet has maintained those oceans for more than 1.5 billion years.

The results suggest that there is plenty of time and water on Mars for life to thrive, but over the past 3.7 billion years the Red Planet has lost 87 percent of its water – leaving it barren and dry.

“Knowing that the mantle of Mars is still active is crucial to our understanding of how Mars evolved as a planet,” said geophysicist Hrvuje Takalic of the Australian National University in Australia.

It can help us answer fundamental questions about the solar system and the evolution state of Mars’ core, mantle, and magnetic field, which are currently lacking.

Mars has a very low magnetic field, which indicates a lack of internal activity.

Planetary magnetic fields are typically generated within a planet by what’s known as a dynamo – a rotating, convective, electrically conductive fluid that converts kinetic energy into magnetic energy, and spins a magnetic field out into space.

Earth’s magnetic field protects us from life-destroying cosmic rays, but radiation levels on Mars are much higher, even though the planet is far from the sun.

“All life on Earth is possible because of the Earth’s magnetic field and its ability to protect us from cosmic rays. Without a magnetic field, life as we know it would not be possible,” Takali said.

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However, when NASA’s Insight probe arrived in November 2018 and began “taking the pulse of Mars” I found the planet gurgling.

Hundreds of marsh earthquakes have been detected so far, but Tkalči and his colleague, the Chinese Academy of Geophysical Sciences Weijia Sun, wanted to look for earthquakes that might have gone unnoticed in the InSight data.

Using two unconventional methods recently applied in geophysics, the duo discovered 47 new seismic events that originated from an area on Mars called Cerberus Fossae.

Most of them resemble the waveforms of the two Cerberus Fossae earthquakes in May and July 2019, indicating that smaller earthquakes are associated with larger ones.

In their search for the cause of the earthquakes, the researchers discovered that there was no pattern in their timing, ruling out the influence of the Martian moon Phobos.

“We found that these earthquakes occur frequently on Mars at all times of the day, while the earthquakes detected and reported by NASA in the past appear to have only occurred at night when the planet is calmer,” Takali said.

Since its arrival in November 2018, the InSight probe has collaborated with several missions orbiting around Mars and roving the planet’s surface: including the Curiosity rover.

Therefore, we can assume that the movement of molten rock in the mantle of Mars is the driver of these 47 newly discovered earthquakes under the Cerberus Fosai region.

Previous research at Cerberus Fossae has already shown that the area has been volcanically active for the past 10 million years.

If Mars is more volcanically and seismically active than originally thought, Tkalčić and Sun believe it will change the way scientists view its past, present, and future.

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Earthquakes on Mars indirectly help us understand whether convection is occurring inside the planet, and if such convection is occurring, and appears to depend on our findings, there must be another mechanism preventing the magnetic field on Mars from developing, Takali said.

It is clear that “understanding the magnetic field of Mars, how it developed and at what point in the history of the planet stopped, is clearly important and crucial for future missions if scientists hope to find human life on it.” . “

The search was published in Connecting with nature.

What are the three most important INSIGHT tools?

The lander that can show how the Earth is formed: The InSight lander is set to land on Mars on November 26

Three main instruments allow the InSight lander to capture the “heartbeat” of the Red Planet:

seismometer: Insight Landing Vehicle seismometerSEIS listens for the pulse of Mars.

A seismometer records waves that travel through the planet’s internal structure.

The study of seismic waves tells us what causes the waves.

Scientists believe that the culprits on Mars may be earthquakes or meteors hitting the surface.

heat probe: The HP3 Heat Flow Probe penetrates deeper than any other scoop, drill, or probe on Mars before it.

It is investigating how much heat still flows away from Mars.

Radio antennas: Mars vibrates slightly like Earth as it rotates on its axis.

To study this, two radio antennas that are part of the RISE instrument closely track the probe’s location.

This helps scientists test the planet’s reactions and tell them how the deep internal structure affects the planet’s movement around the sun.

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