The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) InSight probe has contributed to the creation of the first-ever map of the Martian underground. The study about the creation of the map has been published in the journal Nature Communications.
The map of the Martian underground shows that its first few layers that are close to the surface are around one meter thick. It also gives insight into the sedimentary layer of the Red Planet, whose origin is still unknown.
The InSight lander arrived on Mars in 2018, and its main goal is to study what is referred to as the "marsquakes."
NASA's InSight Probe Makes Map of Mars' Underground
NASA's InSight probe has helped researchers make the first-ever map of the Red Planet's underground.
According to a report by Space, this was done by "listening to the sound of wind reverberating through the layers of soil and rock near Mars' equator."
A newly developed technique used here on Earth led researchers to use the InSight's instruments to look at the first 660 feet beneath the surface of Mars.
"We used a technique that was developed here on Earth to characterize places for earthquake risk and to study the subsurface structure," said Cedric Schmelzbach, who is a geophysicist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich.
Schmelzbach added that the new technique is actually based on ambient vibration. What this means is that what happens on the surface makes the ground vibrate, which can penetrate deep into the subsurface and subsequently be picked by instruments.
While the Red Planet is a lot quieter than Earth in this regard, the InSight lander's instruments were able to pick up the vibrations to help scientists learn more about the Martian underground.
According to Schmelzbach, layers of the Martian underground that are close to the surface are around one meter thick. The map that was created also "reveals an unexpected layer of deep sediments as well as thick deposits of solidified lava, all covered with a 10-foot-thick (3 m) blanket of sandy regolith."
The report by Space adds that the sedimentary layer of Mars is located 100 to 230 feet below the surface of the Red Planet. The origin of this layer remains unknown as of writing.
NASA's InSight Lander
NASA's InSight lander was launched to space in May 2018 and landed on Mars in November of the same year. Specifically, InSight made its landing on the Red Planet's Elysium Planitia.
The goal of the NASA spacecraft is to learn more about the "marsquakes" of the Red Planet. Thanks to the data gathered on the marsquakes, scientists were able to learn more about the core of Mars, including its size and composition.
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Written by Isabella James