current affairs - 2023-10-29

Studies provide insight into the internal structure of Mars


According to two research published in Nature, Mars’ liquid iron core is expected to be surrounded by a molten silicate layer. These findings provide a fresh understanding of Mars’ innards, implying that its core is smaller and denser than previously thought. 

Primary Composition:

  • Mars’ interior structure is centred on a liquid iron-nickel core.
  • This core is made up of elements other than iron and nickel, such as sulfur, carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen. Seismic measurements revealed the presence of these lighter elements.

Core Size and Density:

  • The core of Mars is smaller and denser than previously believed. This challenges previous estimates of the core’s size and composition.
  • The core is surrounded by a layer of near-molten silicate rock, which is approximately 150 kilometres thick.
  • The top of this silicate layer was initially misinterpreted as the surface of the core.

Seismic Data and InSight Lander:

  • The NASA InSight Mars Lander collected the seismic data used in this research.
  • The Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS) experiment at InSight captured seismic waves that travelled through Mars’ interior.
  • Three years of seismic data, including seismic events induced by meteorite impacts, were evaluated.

Temperature Implications:

  • Because of the presence of a molten silicate layer surrounding Mars’ core, the temperature in this layer must be at least 2,000 Kelvin.
  • This high temperature suggests that Mars had a tumultuous interior after its formation. The tumultuous interior shows that Mars did not endure a quiet cooling process in its early history, but rather more dynamic activities.

Reconciling with Chemical Abundance:

  • The new core composition and size estimations are more easily reconcilable with existing information on Mars’ chemical abundance.
  • This implies that the new findings are more consistent with what is known about the distribution of elements on Earth.

Implications for Martian History:

  • These discoveries add to our understanding of Mars’ geological and geophysical past.
  • Understanding the composition and internal structure of Mars’ core aids scientists in reconstructing the planet’s history and origin.
  • It also has consequences for the planet’s ability to support life or future human missions.


In summary, the Nature investigations provide a novel view of Mars’ interior, emphasizing a smaller, denser core with a distinct composition and the presence of a near-molten silicate layer. This information expands our understanding of Mars and its geological evolution.