A look inside Mars
Studying in detail the internal structure of Mars? Yet little more than a year, then we think the InSight lander NASA. And to help him may be meteorites crashing onto the surface of the Red Planet.
InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) is a NASA Discovery Program mission that will place a single geophysical lander on Mars to study its deep interior.
When it arrives at Mars in September of next year, the InSight lander NASA will begin to play a continuous activity of study of the Red Planet, and especially of its internal structure, as yet unknown in detail. We know that Mars once had a magnetic field on a global scale and active volcanoes. So like Earth, it may also have experienced a plate tectonics and upheavals of its crust, recent phenomena that could occur today. InSight will be able to identify these shocks thanks to the seismographs of which is fitted. We cannot, however, determine their position: to do this, as well as on Earth, we need measures of a contemporary event for at least three seismographs placed in different points of the planet’s surface.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Lockheed Martin
But the tools of the lander NASA could capture successfully seismic waves of external nature to Mars: those produced by the impact of meteorites. He is convinced Nick Teanby, a researcher at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom, which offers this type of research in a paper published in the journal Icarus. “This kind of fights do not produce large seismic signals, but Mars would be much more quiet of the Earth than the planet there is no background noise produced by sea waves, vegetation or human activities,” said Teanby.
Yet, it is the problem of figuring out which of the signals picked up by instruments of InSight will be associated with the crash of meteorites on the surface of Mars. This aspect will be crucial support offered by other probes already orbiting the Red Planet. “If we can detect the craters of these impacts from orbital images, we can determine exactly their distance from the lander InSight. This makes the interpretation of data much easier, “adds Teanby.
In fact, being able to make this correlation, the researchers will be able to monitor in near real time as well the crust and the mantle of Mars based on the stresses of external origin and thus obtain information essential for understanding the internal structure of the planet.
Previous missions to Mars have investigated the surface history of the Red Planet by examining features like canyons, volcanoes, rocks and soil, but no one has attempted to investigate the planet’s earliest evolution – its building blocks – which can only be found by looking far below the surface.