...the who's who,
and the what's what 
of the space industry

Space Careers

news Space News

Search News Archive

Title

Article text

Keyword

  • Home
  • News
  • ANU scientists use deep planetary scan to confirm Martian core

ANU scientists use deep planetary scan to confirm Martian core

Written by  Sunday, 30 October 2022 01:05
Write a comment
Canberra, Australia (SPX) Oct 28, 2022
Seismologists from The Australian National University (ANU) have developed a new method to scan the deep interior of planets in our solar system to confirm whether they have a core at the heart of their existence. The scanning method, which works in a similar way to an ultrasound scan using sound waves to generate images of a patient's body, requires only a single seismometer on a planet's

Seismologists from The Australian National University (ANU) have developed a new method to scan the deep interior of planets in our solar system to confirm whether they have a core at the heart of their existence.

The scanning method, which works in a similar way to an ultrasound scan using sound waves to generate images of a patient's body, requires only a single seismometer on a planet's surface in order to work. It can also be used to confirm the size of a planet's core. The research is published in Nature Astronomy.

Using the ANU model to scan the entirety of Mars' interior, the researchers confirmed the Red Planet has a large core at its centre - a theory first confirmed by a team of scientists in 2021.

Study co-author Professor Hrvoje Tkalcic, from ANU, said based on data collected using the ANU technique, the researchers determined that the Martian core, which is smaller than Earth's, is about 3,620 kilometres in diameter.

"Our research presents an innovative method using a single instrument to scan the interior of any planet in a way that's never been done before," he said.

Confirming the existence of a planetary core, which the researchers refer to as the "engine room" of all planets, can help scientists learn more about a planet's past and evolution. It can also help scientists determine at what point in a planet's history a magnetic field formed and ceased to exist.

The core plays an active role in sustaining a planet's magnetic field. In the case of Mars, it could help explain why, unlike Earth, the Red Planet no longer has a magnetic field - something that is critical to sustaining all life forms.

"Modelling suggests that the Martian core is liquid and while it is made up of mostly iron and nickel, it could also contain traces of lighter elements such as hydrogen and sulphur. These elements can alter the ability of the core to transport heat," lead author Dr Sheng Wang, who is also from ANU, said.

"A magnetic field is important because it shields us from cosmic radiation, which is why life on Earth is possible."

Using a single seismometer on Mars' surface, the ANU team measured specific types of seismic waves.The seismic waves, which were triggered by marsquakes, give off a spectrum of signals, or "echoes", that change over time as they reverberate throughout the Martian interior.

These seismic waves pierce through and bounce off the Martian core.

Professor Tkalcic said researchers are interested in the "late" and "weaker" signals that can survive hours after they are emitted from quakes, meteoroid impacts and other sources.

"Although these late signals appear to be noisy and not useful, the similarity between these weak signals recorded at various locations on Mars manifests itself as a new signal that reveals the presence of a large core in the Red Planet's heart," Professor Tkalcic said.

"We can determine how far these seismic waves travel to reach the Martian core but also the speed at which they travel through Mars' interior. This data helps us make estimations about the size of Mars' core."

The researchers say their method of using a single seismometer to confirm the presence of a planetary core is also a "cost-effective solution".

"There is a single seismic station on Mars. There were four of them on the Moon in 1970s. The situation of having a limited number of instruments is unlikely to change in the coming decades or even this century due to high cost," Dr Wang said.

"We need an approach right now to use only a single seismometer to study planetary interiors."

The researchers hope this new ANU-developed technique involving a single seismometer could be used to help scientists learn more about our other planetary neighbours, including the moon.

"The US and China plan to send seismometers to the moon, and Australia also has ambitions to participate in future missions, so there's potential for further studies using new and more sophisticated instruments," Professor Tkalcic said.

Dr Wang said: "Although there are many studies on planetary cores, the images we have of planetary interiors are still very blurry. But with new instruments and methods like ours we'll be able to get sharper images which will help us answer questions such as how big the cores are and whether they take a solid or liquid form.

"Our method could even be used to analyse the Jupiter moons and the outer solar system planets that are solid."

To carry out their research, ANU scientists used data collected from a seismometer attached to NASA's InSight lander, which has been collecting information about marsquakes, Martian weather and the planet's interior since touching down on Mars in 2018.

Research Report:Scanning for planetary cores with single-receiver intersource correlations


Related Links
Australian National University
Mars News and Information at MarsDaily.com
Lunar Dreams and more

Tweet

Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once

credit card or paypal

SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly

paypal only



MARSDAILY
NASA's InSight waits out dust storm
Pasadena CA (JPL) Oct 10, 2022
NASA's InSight mission, which is expected to end in the near future, saw a recent drop in power generated by its solar panels as a continent-size dust storm swirls over Mars' southern hemisphere. First observed on Sept. 21, 2022, by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), the storm is roughly 2,175 miles (3,500 kilometers) from InSight and initially had little impact on the lander. The mission carefully monitors the lander's power level, which has been steadily declining as dust accumulates on i ... read more


Read more from original source...

You must login to post a comment.
Loading comment... The comment will be refreshed after 00:00.

Be the first to comment.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR

* Denotes Required Field
Personal information
Message

Interested in Space?

Hit the buttons below to follow us...