Mars, the red planet’s magnetic field generally begins to pulsate in ways in which have never before been noticed. The cause is presently unknown.
The InSight lander is one of the remarkable preliminary discoveries from NASA’s very first robotic geophysicist there. Following touching down in November 2018, this spacecraft has been collecting intel to support scientists better understand our neighboring planet’s innards and evolution, similar to taking the temperature of its upper layer, recording the sounds of alien quakes, and estimating the strength and path of the planet’s magnetic field.
As revealed throughout presentations this week at a joint meeting of the European Planetary Science Congress and the American Astronomical Society, the new information suggests the magnetic machinations of Mars are marvelously made.
Along with the odd magnetic pulsations, the lander’s data present that the Martian crust is far more powerfully magnetic than scientists anticipated. The lander has picked up on a peculiar electrically conductive layer, about 2.5 miles thick, deep beneath the planet’s floor. It is far too quick to respond with any certainty; however, there is a probability that this layer may represent a global reservoir of liquid water.
On Earth, groundwater is a hidden sea locked up in sand, soil, and rocks. If something related is discovered on Mars, then “we shouldn’t be surprised,” says Jani Radebaugh, a planetary scientist at Brigham Younger College who was not involved with the work. But when these results bear out, a liquid region at this scale on modern Mars has vast implications for the potential for life, previous or present. (Get the facts about conclusive evidence for an underground lake on Mars.)
Thus far, none of those data have been via peer review, and details concerning the initial findings and interpretations will undoubtedly be tweaked over time. Still, the revelations present a stunning showcase for InSight, a robot that has the potential to revolutionize our comprehension of Mars and different rocky worlds across the galaxy.