In DepthPlanetary Science

Mars lander spies the planet's deep boundaries

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  18 Dec 2020:
Vol. 370, Issue 6523, pp. 1387-1388
DOI: 10.1126/science.370.6523.1387

You are currently viewing the summary.

View Full Text

Log in to view the full text

Log in through your institution

Log in through your institution

Summary

For 2 years, NASA's InSight spacecraft has been on the surface of Mars, spending much of that time listening with sensitive seismometers for marsquakes to glean the planet's internal structure, and the processes that in turn formed it. That hunt has been harder than hoped, because of howling winds, defiant martian soil, and a mysterious absence of large marsquakes that could easily be located by the spacecraft. Despite that, using nearly 500 small quakes, the mission has seen hints of boundaries in the rock, tens and hundreds of kilometers below. The results, some debuting this month at an online meeting of the American Geophysical Union, show the planet's crust is surprisingly thin, its mantle cooler than expected, and its large iron core still molten. The findings suggest that in its infancy, Mars efficiently shed heat—perhaps through a pattern of upwelling mantle rock and subducting crust similar to plate tectonics on Earth.

View Full Text

Stay Connected to Science