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The impact of meteorites on Mars reveals the shape of the crust of Mars

The impact of meteorites on Mars reveals the shape of the crust of Mars

Last Christmas Eve, a meteorite struck Mars. The seismic waves generated by the shock traveled across the planet’s surface and were picked up by the seismometer on NASA’s InSight probe. Thanks to this, today we know a lot about the crust of Mars.

Seismic waves are important to scientists because they can provide a lot of information about the structure of the place they are traveling through. It is, in a way, a way of mapping the planet.

If the waves are deep, they give information about the core and mantle, but if they are shallow, They reveal the shape of the planet’s crust.

Since its landing in 2018, the InSight probe has detected 1,318 “swamp” seismic waves – some caused by small meteors – but all came from the depths of the planet, Never from the surface.

But on December 24, they got lucky, and for the first time, three years after they’d reached Mars, InSight caught the surface waves. These waves, and those caused by another meteor impact earlier this year, led to two studies being published today in the journal Science.

“This is the first time that surface seismic waves have been detected on a planet other than Earth. Even the Apollo missions to the moon didn’t do that.”Doyeon Kim, a researcher at the ETH Zurich Institute of Geophysics and lead author of the study that analyzed InSight data.

To confirm the origin of these unusual waves, another team of scientists analyzed images taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, A large crater more than 130 meters in diameter appears About 3,500 kilometers from where Insight was.

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Mars reconnaissance vehicle They also obtained images of the crater from the second impact, about 7,500 kilometers away from InSight, whose surface waves echoed all over the planet. The data was included in the second study.

The information collected by InSight tools revealed this Mars’ crust is denser and more uniform than previously thought.

So far, the only part of Mars crust that has been studied has been the part of the InSight landing site, but “Observations of these surface waves have allowed us to extend our knowledge about the structure of the crust beyond this place.”Martin Schimmel, of the Barcelona Geosciences Institute and co-author of the research, explains.

Thanks to this new information, “we have seen that the crust of Mars, seen at the landing site, It probably does not represent the general structure of the planet’s crust.”Shemel confirms.

Based on their measurements, the InSight landing site is a low-density structure, but after analyzing surface waves, the team found that Mars’ crust is much denser, An important discovery because the planet’s crust gives clues about how it formed and how it evolved over the past few millennia.

The crust could be different from what was previously thought “due to the processes of volcanic eruptions. In fact, a significant part of the surface wave path crosses volcanic provinces”, explains the researcher from Geociencias Barcelona.

Another explanation could be that the cortical structure under the insight formed in time. One of the materials expelled by a large meteorite impact more than 3000 million years ago.

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Due to dust buildup on the solar panels, InSight is expected to finish its work in December 2022, but until then, Data from this probe will help to better understand the Red Planet.

In fact, the ETH Zurich team We hope to soon have the results of the largest earthquake ever recorded on Mars. The event, which was recorded last May, had a magnitude of 5 and also caused surface seismic waves that were picked up by the probe.