NASA’s InSight lander creates history by creating the first underground map of Mars

NASA’s InSight lander creates history by creating the first underground map of Mars

NASA’s Mars InSight (Internal Exploration using Seismic, Geodesy and Heat Transport investigations) has already created the first map of the Red Planet underground.

The InSight lander landed on Mars on November 26, 2018, landing in the region of Elysium Planitia – the second largest volcanic region on Red Planet.

Geophysicists from ETH Zurich and the University of Cologne, used earthquake data to analyze the formation of the Elysium Planitia region.

The data suggested the presence of a shallow sedimentary layer between the lava flows beneath the planetary surface.

The findings were published in the journal Nature Communications.

The team surveyed the shallow ground to a depth of about 200 feet [200 m].

Just below the surface, they found a regolith of a three-foot-high [3 m] sandstone thicker than a 15-foot [15 m] layer of blocky ejecta rough – rocky blocks were released after a meteorite impact and fell backwards.

Below these high levels, they identified about 150 feet [150 m] of basaltic rock, that is, the lava flow of cool and solid, which was closely related to the expected underground structure.

However, in the midst of this lava flow, from a depth of about 30 meters, the team identified an additional layer of 30 to 40 meters with a low seismic velocity, suggesting that it contained weak sedimentary substances compared to the sediments. strong basalt.

In addition, they discovered that the lava flows are about 1.7 billion years old, formed during the Amazonian period – a geological period on Mars characterized by low numbers of meteorite and asteroid impacts and cold, desert conditions, that began. about three times. billions of years ago.

In contrast, the deep basalt layer beneath the fossils was formed much earlier, about 3.6 billion years ago during the Hesperian period, marked by volcanic activity.

The team suggested that the middle layer with low volcanic activity could form sedimentary deposits between Hesperian and Amazonian basalt, or within the Amazonian basalts themselves.

“While the results help to better understand the geological processes at Elysium Planitia, comparisons with pre-arrival models are also important for future machines, because they can help analyze forecasts,” said University of Earthquake expert Dr Brigitte Knapmeyer-Endrun. Cologne.

Mars has been the compulsion of many planetary scientific equipment, but the InSight mission is the first to directly measure the earth’s surface using seismic methods.

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