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Champ de dunes à l'intérieur d'un petit cratère de 5 km de diamètre dans les plaines du nord de Mars. © Nasa, JPL, UArizona

Martian winds can detect what’s beneath its surface

The InSight mission was sent to Mars in 2018 with a very specific goal: to examine the interior of the Red Planet. As surprising as it may seem, it includes, among other things, the analysis of vibrations caused by gusts of wind. Now researchers, based on these data, are giving us a fairly detailed map of the Martian soil.

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[EN VIDÉO] Mars Insight: A geophysicist on Mars
Launched in May 2018 and installed in November on Mars, the InSight lander should explore the Red Planet’s least known environment: its subsoil, to its core. Thanks to sophisticated instruments, including a seismometer and a five-meter drill, it has enough to help us better understand our little neighbors.

Mars, the red planet. It arouses the interest of researchers. Makes amateurs dream. And in recent years, a large number of scientific expeditions have gone out to meet him. They flew over it. They put themselves in orbit around it. or landed on its own land. Return the amount of information to Earth aboutAtmosphere or the surface of Mars. but the InSight missionthat landed on the sideElysium PlanetiaIt is a volcanic region located onequator On the planet, he is the first to pay special attention to his subsoil.

thanks to him seismometer On board, Seis’ tool for Seismic experiment of the internal structureInSight has given scientists an idea of ​​the size and composition of the red planet’s core. But also from the nature Coat and its thickness Shell. Today, Researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (Switzerland) shows how, by tracking the echoes of the sound of the wind on layers of soil and rock, it is able to determine what the first two hundred meters of the crust of Mars consists of.

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The technology they used was developed for completely terrestrial purposes. In order to study the underground structures of areas at risk of seismic activity. On our old good blue planet, in fact, the oceans, but also slots-Keep the ground shaking. And those weak tremors seismologists They can measure thanks to their more sensitive instruments that form fingerprints of what’s going on in the basement.

Surprising details

On Mars, there are no oceans. Very fragile atmosphere. With a little wind then. and one measuring station, and InSight mission. However, probe records have just revealed some amazing details about the Martian interior Precision One meter near the surface and a few tens of meters deeper.

The researchers’ mapping reveals an unexpected layer of 30-40 metres sediment. Their origin remains to be determined. This layer is surrounded by thick sediments of to make solidification. All covered with a layer of about three meters the burial sandy. She points out that the storyElysium Planetia It can be more annoying than Astronomy scientists I didn’t think so until then.

Already, thanks to previous studies of nearby craters, researchers have determined that the lava layers date back to about 1.7 billion – in the middle of a calm, cold, dry period on Mars – and 3.6 billion in years – during the strong volcanic activity. Above the smallest layer of lava, just below the surface regolith, there is also a bed of rock about 15 meters thick. It may have been lifted off the surface of Mars by a meteorite impact.

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Now, the researchers hope that they can apply their method to explore the subsurface of Mars even deeper. Even the first kilometers of the crust of Mars.

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