Mars: A New Core-Crystallization Regime

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Science  01 Jun 2007:
Vol. 316, Issue 5829, pp. 1323-1325
DOI: 10.1126/science.1140549

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The evolution of the martian core is widely assumed to mirror the characteristics observed for Earth's core. Data from experiments performed on iron-sulfur and iron-nickel-sulfur systems at pressures corresponding to the center of Mars indicate that its core is presently completely liquid and that it will not form an outwardly crystallizing iron-rich inner core, as does Earth. Instead, planetary cooling will lead to core crystallization following either a “snowing-core” model, whereby iron-rich solids nucleate in the outer portions of the core and sink toward the center, or a “sulfide inner-core” model, where an iron-sulfide phase crystallizes to form a solid inner core.

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