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Tuesday, June 6, 2023

A quake on Mars confirmed its crust is thicker than Earth’s

Planetary scientists now know the way thick the Martian crust is, because of the strongest Marsquake ever noticed.

On common, the crust is between 42 and 56 kilometers thick, researchers report in a paper to look in Geophysical Analysis Letters. That’s roughly 70 p.c thicker than the common continental crust on Earth.

The measurement was primarily based on information from NASA’s InSight lander, a stationary seismometer that recorded waves rippling by way of Mars’ inside for 4 Earth years. Final Might, the whole planet shook with a magnitude 4.7 quake that lasted greater than six hours (SN: 5/13/22). “We had been actually lucky that we acquired this quake,” says seismologist Doyeon Kim of ETH Zurich.

InSight recorded seismic waves from the quake that circled Mars as much as thrice. That allow Kim and colleagues infer the crust thickness over the entire planet.

Not solely is the crust thicker than that of the Earth and the moon, but it surely’s additionally inconsistent throughout the Crimson Planet, the group discovered. And which may clarify a identified north-south elevation distinction on Mars.

Topological and gravity information from Mars orbiters have proven that the planet’s northern hemisphere is considerably decrease than the southern one. Researchers had suspected that density would possibly play an element: Maybe the rocks that make up northern Mars have a unique density than these of southern Mars.

However the crust is thinner within the northern hemisphere, Kim and colleagues discovered, so the rocks in each hemispheres most likely have the identical common densities. That discovering helps scientists slender down the reasons for why the distinction exists within the first place.

Figuring out the crust’s depth, the group additionally calculated that a lot of Mars’ inner warmth most likely originates within the crust. Most of this warmth comes from radioactive components equivalent to potassium, uranium and thorium. An estimated 50 to 70 p.c of these components are most likely within the crust fairly than the underlying mantle, laptop simulations counsel. That helps the concept components of Mars nonetheless have volcanic exercise, opposite to a long-held perception that the Crimson Planet is lifeless (SN: 11/3/22).  

Lisa Grossman

Lisa Grossman is the astronomy author. She has a level in astronomy from Cornell College and a graduate certificates in science writing from College of California, Santa Cruz. She lives close to Boston.

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