By Stacy Palen
The Mars InSight lander is using marsquakes to probe the interior of Mars. In July 2021, the first clutch of papers on the results were published.
Below are some questions to ask your students based on this article.
1). What is a marsquake?
Answer: It’s like an earthquake, but on Mars. While on Earth, quakes are caused by the movement of tectonic plates, on Mars, quakes are caused by stresses as the planet cools.
2). How many marsquakes had InSight observed as of the date of this article?
Answer: 733, but only 35 of them provided data for the papers discussed here.
3). How many interior layers was Mars predicted to have?
Answer: Mars was predicted to have three layers: a crust, a mantle, and a core.
4). How many layers were found by Mars InSight? Were they as predicted?
Answer: Three layers were observed. The core was the size that was predicted, but the crust was thinner than expected. Logically, we conclude that the mantle would be thicker than expected.
5). Were there any other surprises in the observations?
Answer: Yes. The biggest quakes come from one area: Cerberus Fossae, which has “recently” been volcanically active. But no quakes have been observed from the giant Tharsis region, which might be a result of Mars InSight’s location in the “shadow” of the core.
6). Is the mission still ongoing, or has Mars InSight finished its work?
Answer: The mission is still ongoing.