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Surprise, Surprise: Subsurface Water On Mars Defies Expectations - SciTechDaily

Surprise, Surprise: Subsurface Water On Mars Defies Expectations - SciTechDaily

Surprise, Surprise: Subsurface Water On Mars Defies Expectations - SciTechDaily
Aug 12, 2022 1 min, 26 secs

An artist illustration of the InSight lander on Mars.

A new analysis of seismic data from NASA’s Mars InSight mission has uncovered a couple of big surprises.

The first surprise: the top 300 meters (1000 feet) of the subsurface beneath the landing site near the Martian equator contains little or no ice.

Wright and three co-authors published their analysis on August 9, 2022, in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

NASA’s InSight Mars lander acquired this image of the area in front of the lander using its lander-mounted, Instrument Context Camera (ICC) on April 11, 2022, Sol 1199 of the InSight mission.

However, the uncemented subsurface removes one way to preserve a record of life or biological activity, Wright said.

Many planetary scientists, including Manga, have long suspected that the Martian subsurface would be full of ice.

The surface data indicated that the subsurface might consist of sedimentary rock and lava flows.

Wright’s team at Scripps Oceanography applied rock physics computer modeling to interpret the velocities derived from the InSight data.

Simulations showing a subsurface consisting mostly of uncemented material best fit the data.

Scientists want to probe the subsurface because if life exists on Mars, that is where it would be.

There is no liquid water on the surface, and subsurface life would be protected from radiation.

The goal is to drill two meters (6 feet) into the Martian crust at high latitude to search for life where ice, rock, and the atmosphere come together.

“All my life growing up, I’ve heard the Earth may become uninhabitable,” said study co-author Jhardel Dasent, another graduate student in the lab Wright leads.

Reference: “A minimally cemented shallow crust beneath InSight” by Vashan Wright, Jhardel Dasent, Richard Kilburn and Michael Manga, 9 August 2022, Geophysical Research Letters.

August 8, 2022


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