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Scientists have discovered a magma ocean beneath the Martian crust

Scientists have discovered a magma ocean beneath the Martian crust

Two studies published in Nature redefine what is known about the size and composition of the Martian core. Scientists discovered The presence of an extensive layer of magma surrounding the mineral core in the interior of Mars. Research suggests that the core of the Red Planet is not as dense as previously thought.

Seismic shocks

Teams led by Amir Khan, of ETH Zurich, in Switzerland, and Henri Samuel, of the Institute of Physics in Paris, France, independently evaluated data from NASA’s InSight mission, which arrived at Mars in November 2018. Scientists focused on one piece of data on In particular: a meteorite falling on the Red Planet in 2021. The impact caused seismic shocks that were captured by the mission’s seismograph.

Meteor impact waves propagate through the interior structure of Mars captured by NASA’s seismometer (Image: IPGP/CNES/N. Starter/Disclosure, via EurekAlert)

By studying the propagation times of waves generated by a meteorite impact, scientists were able to identify and identify a thin layer of molten silicates (rock-forming minerals that make up the crust and mantle of Mars and Earth) located between the mantle and the Martian layer. essence. With the discovery of this molten layer, The researchers concluded that the Martian core is denser and smaller than previous estimatesIt is a conclusion that agrees better with other geophysical data and analyzes of Martian meteorites.

Researchers suggest so Mars most likely It experienced an early stage of ocean magma, whose crystallization produced a stable layer at the base of the mantle, rich in iron and radioactive elements. The heat from the latter generated a basal layer of molten silicate above the core, covered by a thinner, partially molten layer.

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According to scientists, the layered structure of the interior of Mars’ mantle, which contrasts with that on Earth, It indicates different internal developments on the two planets. “The discovery of this stratification in the Martian mantle opens new avenues of research, as seismic data recorded by the InSight mission’s SEIS instrument will now be reconsidered in light of this new model,” said Melanie Drilio, research engineer at ISAE-SUPAERO. Co-author of the study.