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Scientists study earthquakes on Mars to learn how planets are created



Deep below the surface of Mars is a mysterious place – we still do not quite understand what it looks like. But scientists think the inside could hide clues that help them bring together the early days of the planet. This in turn could shed light on how all the planets, not just Mars, have formed.

In May, NASA plans to launch its next mission to Mars, a lander called InSight. As soon as the lander arrives, he will carefully place three instruments on the surface of the red planet. One of these instruments is a seismometer, the same type of device that measures earthquakes at home. Mars experiences smaller but similar shocks, and scientists hope that they will help in exploring the planet's interior.

These seismometers track the waves of energy moving through the rock that makes up a planet. Here on Earth, scientists know how to adapt the speed of these waves to the properties of the rock ̵

1; for example, they move faster through colder rocks.

This means scientists can track these seismic waves and then work backwards to infer the deep structure of a planet. For example, they discover places where heat escapes from the core of the planet.

But here on Earth, scientists can tap into networks of sometimes hundreds of seismometers that allow them to accurately determine the position of various subterranean structures. In contrast, the Mars InSight team will only have one instrument to measure seismic waves. This means they need to study more individual quakes to get the same detail about the internal structure of Mars.

Read more: NASA Practices its Next Mars Landing with Crushed Gems [196590000] Scientists expect the device to record tens or even hundreds of Martian earthquakes during its time on the Red Planet. It should also be able to make similar measurements when small meteorites land on the surface.

 03_29_mars_insight_seismometer NASA's Mars InSight Lander will carry a seismometer shown on the front to measure earthquakes. NASA

Technically, NASA attempted similar measurements with the Viking countries in the 1970s. Although these robots carried seismometers, they could not bring these instruments directly to the surface, where they could receive serious seismic waves.

"It was a disabled experiment," Mars InSight scientist Bruce Banerdt said in a news release. "I'm joking that we did not do seismology on Mars – we did it three feet above Mars."

InSight gives you a new chance to get it right. Similar works on the moon during Apollo missions were more successful than the Viking trials. In addition to measuring natural moonquakes, astronauts have even pushed rocket parts into the surface to provide more data.

On Mars, the team will limit themselves to the natural shocks. But they think that the natural activity of the planet will be enough to bring light into its deepest secrets.


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