Astronomers working with data from the automatic station InSight, published the first scientific results obtained after 10 months of operation of the apparatus. The evidence that Mars is still seismically active planet, and its crust is heterogeneous in composition and contains small amounts of volatile substances.
Also managed to build a map of the structure of subsurface layers in the drop-off location of the device and learn more about the weather on the red planet, said in the journals Nature Geoscience and Nature Communications.
What is known about the device InSight
Automatic research station InSight “landed” on Mars in November 2018, in the highlands area Elysium, and in the middle of December 2018 and February 2019 dropped on the surface of the two main scientific instrument of the mission: HP3 drill designed to measure heat flow in the Martian soil, and the SEIS seismograph.
In early February of 2019 began its full functioning of the sensor system APSS, collecting on a regular basis data about the weather conditions.
The first scientific data on seismic activity
One of the main outcomes of the first ten months of station operation was the confirmation that Mars remains seismically active planet. As of September 30, 2019 seismograph were registered 174 seismic events, of which 150 were high frequency, and 24 events – low frequency, which indicates their tectonic nature. These include 13 cases for which you can roughly calculate the source location and magnitude.
Comparison of seismic noise on Mars, the moon and the Earth
The frequency of seismic events with smaller magnitudes similar to the frequency of such events in the earth’s crust, a powerful marzorati was not observed.
The structure of the surface of Mars
SEIS data show that the upper layers of the crust of Mars to the depths of 8-11 kilometers have undergone significant change and heterogeneous, in addition, the bark contains small amounts of volatile substances and it is a strong scattering of seismic waves.
Comparison of seismograph and the HP3 instrument, and examine images on-Board cameras of the station allowed for a picture of the structure of the subsurface at the landing site InSight.
The structure of the subsurface at the landing site InSight
The unit is located on the slope of the eroded impact crater, called the basin of Holmsted, with a diameter of about 27 meters. Its age is estimated at 400-500 million years old. The surface around the station is relatively smooth, sandy, rich in small granules and pebbles, with a small number of relatively large stones.
About ten impact craters with a diameter of 1-10 meters can be seen on panoramic images within 20 meters from the landing platform.
Weather conditions on Mars
Weather data sensors show that the wind is approximately from midnight to early morning, as more cold air descends from the highlands in the southern hemisphere in the lowland regions in the Northern hemisphere where the station is located.
During the day the heating of the air by sunlight causes convection currents. The wind increases again towards evening, when the falling air pressure and dust devils appear. Until late in the evening the wind dies down, and the situation around the landing platform becomes quiet.
Station InSight on the surface of Mars
Late in the evening and until midnight the atmospheric conditions are so favorable that the seismograph is capable of registering tectonic noise from the depths of the planet. Night shooting showed that in the sky there was light a long time after dusk (with an intensity of about 10 relays) is not due to reflection of light from the moons of Mars. Previously it was assumed that it is caused by reactions in the upper atmosphere, but to observe it are only now.
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