Seismic detection of the martian core

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Abstract

Clues to a planet’s geologic history are contained in its interior structure, particularly its core. We detected reflections of seismic waves from the core-mantle boundary of Mars using InSight seismic data and inverted these together with geodetic data to constrain the radius of the liquid metal core to 1830 ± 40 kilometers. The large core implies a martian mantle mineralogically similar to the terrestrial upper mantle and transition zone but differing from Earth by not having a bridgmanite-dominated lower mantle. We inferred a mean core density of 5.7 to 6.3 grams per cubic centimeter, which requires a substantial complement of light elements dissolved in the iron-nickel core. The seismic core shadow as seen from InSight’s location covers half the surface of Mars, including the majority of potentially active regions—e.g., Tharsis—possibly limiting the number of detectable marsquakes.

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Stähler, S. C., Khan, A., Bruce Banerdt, W., Lognonné, P., Giardini, D., Ceylan, S., … Smrekar, S. E. (2021). Seismic detection of the martian core. Science, 373(6553), 443–448. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.abi7730

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