Mars, which has always been the subject of futuristic visions and perfect cinematographic subject, so distant and unknown, in reality was not so close to me. Finally after well 2 years after its landing, InSight (NASA’s spacecraft) did exactly the main function for which it was conceived, which is to provide data for investigate the internal structure of Mars.
Certainly not a foregone goal given the enormous difficulties that can arise in a journey of well half a billion kilometers, yet here it is popping up among the news around the world, among the pride of researchers and its designers, this should make us reflect on how the scientific and technological world invest money, time and research for projects whose results will arrive perhaps years later, a winning, risky, but typical mentality of those who see the future as a long-term investment for the benefit of all, and not like the greasy tree from which to draw with various marketing gimmicks.
InSight and its discovery, how and in what way and its tools
The probe, which started just to examine the heart of Mars, has been equipped with a seismograph called “SEIS” to be able to detect seismic activity on the planet, and a “heat flow Physical properties package”, in a nutshell a sensor for measuring the heat flow supported a long mechanical arm extendable able to bring the aforementioned sensor to one depth of 5 meters.
So how did these tools allow InSight to derive the data I’m telling you about? Quite simply, through the seismograph has intercepted the seismic waves of earthquakes in the depths of the red planet, the waves in fact, depending on the materials they pass through, propagate in a different way emitting waves different in shape and speed, thus allowing researchers to obtain the much hoped for data.
The discovery, fruit of three international studies published on Science, as you may have guessed by now, they speak to us of the core of Mars and how it has a liquid composition, fused to be precise, the researchers were also able to understand and calculate the stratification of its crust.
It is thinner than expected, in fact depending on the levels and sub-levels it varies in thickness, in the points where there are 2 levels the depth is about 20 km, at the points where are 3 arrives at about 37 km. Below the crust there is a 1560 km deep mantle where at the center it resides the core with a radius of 1830 km.
With an estimated cost of about 425 million dollars the InSight probe has certainly not disappointed expectations, and to think that it has suffered a delay of the departure of a few months for a problem with the seismograph vital for the entire shipment! This is a truly fascinating story, full of background.
For example, did you know that NASA as a media initiative to engage the public, by submitting a form to its website Has it allowed 2.5 million people to engrave their name on two chips mounted in the probe? And to send to all participants, some sort of boarding pass complete with sending the official mission crest? A great classic of American patriotism and its way of involving the population in all areas of society.
For us, we just have to hope for these incredible discoveries, and hope that they will be able to give the technological impulse that our society desperately needs to progress more and more fast and sustainable, so turn your gaze to the stars from time to time, because the space age is coming much faster than you think.