A new study connected the seismic data from NASA’s Mars InSight mission to the properties of rocks, sediments, and ice on the red planet. Here’s what has been revealed.
The hunt for water on Mars has a long history. In the latest development, new analysis of seismic data from the Mars InSight mission of NASA has revealed some surprising facts about the red planet. NASA’s Mars InSight mission is to study in-depth the “inner space” of Mars: its crust, mantle, and core. NASA says, “Studying Mars’ interior structure answers key questions about the early formation of rocky planets in our inner solar system – Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars – more than 4 billion years ago, as well as rocky exoplanets.”
During this journey, one of the surprises that the InSight data gave is that beneath the landing site near the Martian equator, almost the top 300 meters of the subsurface of the planet has little or no ice. Geophysicist Vashan Wright of Scripps Institution of Oceanography along with three co-authors published their analysis in Geophysical Research Letters on August 9.
The study revealed Mars’ crust is weak and porous and there’s no ice or not much ice filling the pore spaces. However, Wright argued, “These findings don’t preclude that there could be grains of ice or small balls of ice that are not cementing other minerals together. The question is how likely is ice to be present in that form?”
It further mentioned that fractures within the basalt layers are expected to be filled with gas, 2 percent mineral cement and 98 percent gas, and less than 20 percent of ice. That’s the reason behind the absence of ice or liquid form of water even at 300 meters depth on Mars, InSight revealed.
The researchers further hoped that understanding how much and where ice and other minerals exist within Mars’s sub-surface will help to know if Mars ever supported life. Moreover, it will unwrap its climate history, geological system, and will further help to prepare for human exploration.