This image taken by NASA's InSight lander shows InSight's seismometer on Mars, Dec. 11, 2022. (Photo credit: NASA)
The findings mark the first direct observations ever made of another planet's core, according to a study.
LOS ANGELES, April 25 (Xinhua) -- Using seismic data gathered by NASA's InSight mission, scientists have made the first observations of seismic waves traveling through Mars' core, according to new study published on Monday.
Mars has a liquid iron alloy core at its center. By looking at seismic waves the InSight lander detected from a pair of temblors in 2021, scientists have been able to deduce that Mars' liquid iron core is smaller and denser than previously thought.
The findings mark the first direct observations ever made of another planet's core, according to the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences.
The two temblors, which occurred on Aug. 25 and Sept. 18 of 2021, originated on the opposite side of the Red Planet from the lander, so-called farside quakes.
"Farside quakes are intrinsically harder to detect because a great deal of energy is lost or diverted away as seismic waves travel through the planet," said lead author Jessica Irving, an Earth scientist at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom.
Based on the findings documented in the paper, about a fifth of Mars' core is composed of elements such as sulfur, oxygen, carbon, and hydrogen.
InSight was launched in May 2018 to study the deep interior of Mars. It touched down safely on the Red Planet in late November 2018. The lander ended its mission last December after more than four years of collecting unique science on Mars. ■