“Earth and Mars are formed from very similar materials,” says Bruce Banerdt, chief investigator for InSight at NASA’s jet propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, which leads the NASA InSight mission. “Why did the planets become so different in the end? Our measurements will help us to turn the clock hand and understand what led to green Earth but desert Mars.”
There was a time when their resemblance was frightening: both planets were warm, humid, and shrouded in thick atmospheres. But 3 or 4 billion years ago, their paths diverged. We may soon find out why they went their separate ways. NASA InSight spacecraft will arrive on the Red planet on Monday, November 26, and will allow scientists to compare the Earth with its” rusty ” brother.
InSight flies to Mars
InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) will not search for life on Mars. But by exploring the inside of the planet — what it’s made of, how the material is layered, and how much heat passes through it — it will help scientists understand how the planet’s raw materials can support life.
Once upon a time, Mars stopped changing, and the Earth continued. At the Ground there was a sort of geological conveyor, which has never been Mars: tectonic plates. When they converge, they can push the crust into the planet. When they’re apart, they let Cora out.
This grinding of the material not only brings new rocks to the surface. Some of the vital ingredients, volatile substances, include water, carbon dioxide and methane. Because they are easily converted to gas, they can be released by tectonic movement.
The fact that Mars has no tectonic plates suggests that its crust never went deep into the planet. Can the emergence of life depend on whether the tectonic plates that carry out volatile substances work?
“One of the most important questions of the relativity of fitness for life is what are the basic conditions necessary for the formation of life on the planet?”says sue Smrekar, Deputy chief investigator of InSight at JPL. “Understanding the original building blocks lays the Foundation for how the processes affecting the environment evolve over time.”
InSight can help find answers to these questions by using a seismometer (SEIS) to consider how earthquakes — which can be caused not only by tectonic actions — pass through Mars. Understanding how the planet is stratified will help scientists go back in time and sort through how dust, metals and ice in the early Solar system came together to form the Red planet.
Each solid planet holds heat in the bowels. Part of it is enclosed during the formation of the planet; the rest appears as a consequence of the gradual decay of radioactive materials. This heat gradually makes its way to the surface, melts the layers of rock, destroying the crust and creating volcanoes that carry volatile gases to the surface.
Heat is important for several reasons. In the early history of Mars could be born warm springs, making their way from the subsurface. Could also be the eruption of volcanic vapors which are later condensed into a stream and oceans.
By measuring Mars ‘ internal temperature with a probe called Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3), InSight can help explain how heat forms the planet’s surface, making it more or less habitable over time.
The heat maintains the molten core of the planet and the current one. The metal elements in this core generate electric currents as they move, creating a magnetic field. This magnetic field is like an invisible armor protecting the planet and any life forms that may be on it from radiation.
Mars once had a very strong magnetic field; many ancient parts of the planet’s crust are highly magnetized. But billions of years ago, this field practically evaporated, leaving Mars unprotected.
To better understand why Mars ‘ magnetic field has disappeared, InSight scientists want to learn more about the planet’s core. The presence of a liquid, solid or hybrid core will determine the rocking of the planet on its axis, similar to how the Yule sways during spinning or a raw egg.
Radioexpedition RISE (Rotation and Structure of the Experiment) InSight will help scientists to measure variations of Mars. In combination with information about the layers and the warmth of the planet, these insights will allow us to understand how Mars has lost its magnetic field.
The fluctuation of Mars, tectonic activity and heat flux — these three points will help us to find out why our planetary neighbor chose a different path.
“Mars is a laboratory in which all these processes took place at an early stage of the planet’s formation,” says Smrekar. “InSight will help clarify our patterns of planet change over time.”
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