Research provided new insights on the origins and evolution of the Planet Mars

A team of international scientists, including researchers from the University of Maryland, have used data from NASA's InSight lander to study seismic waves traveling through Mars' core and have confirmed model predictions of the core's composition. 

The team found that Mars' core is entirely liquid, made up of an iron-alloy with high sulfur and oxygen levels. These findings, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on April 24, 2023, provide new insights into how Mars formed and the differences between Earth and Mars, which could affect planetary habitability.

This image shows how seismic waves moved through the core of Mars and provides an artist's visualization of the planet's interior. Credit: NASA/JPL and Nicholas Schmerr.

The team tracked the progression of two seismic events on Mars and detected waves that traveled through the planet's core, allowing them to estimate the density and compressibility of the material the waves traveled through. 

The results suggest that Mars has a completely liquid core, unlike Earth's combination of a liquid outer core and solid inner core. The study highlights the importance of applying knowledge of seismic waves to understand the composition of other planets, such as Mars.

The InSight mission, which conducted seismic monitoring on Mars for four years, has yielded new insights into the composition and evolution of Mars' core. 

The mission provided detailed data on the planet's interior, allowing scientists to confirm modeling estimates and gain a better understanding of how the planet evolved over time. 

The team found that Mars' core contains a high percentage of light elements, such as sulfur and oxygen, which suggests that it is less dense and more compressible than Earth's core. 

This difference points to different conditions of formation for the two planets and explains why Mars does not generate a magnetic field like Earth's, leaving its surface hostile to life.

The team's findings have paved the way for future geophysics-oriented expeditions to other celestial bodies, including planets like Venus and Mercury. Although the InSight mission ended in December 2022, scientists will continue to analyze the data that was collected for years to come.


Irving, Jessica C. E., First observations of core-transiting seismic phases on Mars, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2023). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2217090120

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