Smaller fire cores are denser to the larger the density

Swiss and French scientists have suggested that Mars’ liquid iron nucleus may be encased in a layer of completely molten silicates in two separate studies that suggest that the Martian nucleus is smaller and denser than previously thought. The two studies were published online Oct. 25 in Nature.

In 2021, scientists analyzed seismic data from NASA’s InSight lander and revealed that Mars has a large but low-density nucleus composed of liquid iron and light elements such as sulfur, carbon, oxygen and hydrogen. However, these results suggest that the proportion of light elements in the Martian nucleus is higher than the estimated abundance of these elements early in Mars’ history.

Now, Amir Khan and colleagues at ETH Zurich and Henri Samuel and colleagues at the University of Paris-Cité have combined the latest batch of Marsquake signals with first-principles simulations and geophysical models to estimate the size and composition of the Martian core.

The study found that the liquid iron core of Mars is surrounded by a layer of near-molten silicate rock about 150 kilometers thick, the top of which was previously mistaken for the surface of the Martian core. The shrinking radius of Mars’ core means that it is denser than previously estimated by the InSight study. These estimates are more consistent with the current understanding of the chemical abundance of Mars, as it would require fewer light element fusions to produce a stable liquid nucleus.

A contemporaneous news opinion piece argued that the results were “the most accurate and accurate estimate of the structure of the Martian nucleus and mantle to date,” noting that the findings have improved the understanding of the formation and composition of terrestrial planets. (Source: Feng Weiwei, China Science News)

Mars Image credit: Pixabay

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