Scientists shocked by size of Mars' liquid core

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The BBC reports that NASA scientists have studied data from the seismology sensors on its InSight probe and now know what the internal structure of Mars looks like.

The probe has been sensing small quakes on the planet since early 2019. Its readings reveal that Mars' crust is between 24 and 72 kilometers thick, which is thinner than expected.

But the key finding is the size of the planet's liquid and metallic core. Its radius of 1,830 kilometers is wider than expected.

This means that the mantle between the core and the crust is thinner than previously thought. And that means it's highly unlikely this mantle can achieve the pressures where the mineral bridgmanite becomes stable.

On Earth, this stiff mineral blankets the core, slowing convection and the loss of heat. On early Mars, its absence would have led to rapid cooling.

This initially would have permitted strong convection in the metal core, which drove a global magnetic field. But because of rapid cooling, this has now switched off and today Mars has no global magnetic field.

RUNDOWN SHOWS:
1. InSight probe's crane lifting instrument from probe and putting it down on surface of Mars
2. Show Mars as sphere, with probe on top, then show Mars cut open to show insides
3. Highlight crust, then inner core, liquid metal, add measuring line on core's radius
4. Highlight mantle, add red measuring line, cluster of bridgmanite forming, then deforming
5. Show Earth cut open to show layers, bridgmanite layer highlighted, inset box shows molecular structure
6. Mars' cutaway, currents rotating in liquid core, magnetic field active, cooling of core stops currents, magnetic field disappears

VOICEOVER (in English):
"The BBC reports that NASA scientists have studied data from the seismology sensors on its InSight probe and now know what the internal structure of Mars looks like."

"The probe has been sensing small quakes on the planet since early 2019. Its readings reveal that Mars' crust is between 24 and 72 kilometers thick, which is thinner than expected."

"But the key finding is the size of the planet's liquid and metallic core. Its radius of 1,830 kilometers is wider than expected."

"This means that the mantle between the core and the crust is thinner than previously thought. And that means it's highly unlikely this mantle can achieve the pressures where the mineral bridgmanite becomes stable."

"On Earth, this stiff mineral blankets the core, slowing convection and the loss of heat. On early Mars, its absence would have led to rapid cooling."

"This initially would have permitted strong convection in the metal core, which drove a global magnetic field. But because of rapid cooling, this has now switched off and today Mars has no global magnetic field."


SOURCES: BBC, NASA, National Geographic
https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-57935742
https://mars.nasa.gov/insight/
https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/article/nasa-insight-spacecraft-reveals-first-peek-inside-mars-center