An interdisciplinary team that includes seismologists, geochemists and geophysicists are the recipients of the 2023 AAAS Newcomb Cleveland Prize for a study that used seismic detection to learn more about the core of Mars. ‘Seismic detection of the martian core’ by corresponding author Simon C. Stähler, from ETH Zürich, and 41 other researchers, including Martin Schimmel, from Geosciences Barcelona (GEO3BCN-CSIC), was published in Science on July 23, 2021.

The ability to detect, measure and record “marsquakes” via the Mars InSight lander not only offers an accurate picture of Mars’ seismic activity, but such data also allowed researchers to visualize the Martian core for the first time ever. The prize-winning team used a single seismometer on a planet 50 million miles away to narrow down the size of the Martian core (on the larger end of previous estimates), confirm that it is liquid and suggest its iron-nickel chemical composition.

“I am very happy to have led the quest of finding a signature of Mars’ core in the seismic data, the result of an effort to bring a seismometer to Mars dating back to the 1980s. While the prize goes to a single paper, it celebrates the work of the whole InSight team,” Said corresponding author Stähler, senior assistant at the Institute of Geophysics at ETH Zürich in Switzerland.

InSight, short for Interior Exploration Using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, is a NASA mission supported by a number of European partners, led by France's Centre National d'Études Spatiales. Significant contributions came from Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris in France; the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Germany; Imperial College London and Oxford University in the United Kingdom; ETH Zürich in Switzerland; and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the United States.

The recipients, many of them seismologists, have together opted to donate their prize to Médecins Sans Frontières for their relief efforts in the Turkey-Syria border region affected by the February 6 earthquakes.

About AAAS Awards

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has announced the 2023 winners of eight longstanding awards that recognize scientists, engineers, innovators and public servants for their contributions to science and society. The awards honour individuals and teams for a range of achievements, from advancing science diplomacy and engaging the public in order to boost scientific understanding to mentoring the next generation of scientists and engineers.

In particular, the AAAS Newcomb Cleveland Prize, supported by The Fodor Family Trust, was established in 1923 and is awarded annually to the author or authors of an outstanding paper published in the Research Articles or Reports sections of Science. Recipients of the award, AAAS’ oldest, collectively receive $25,000.

The 2023 winners, first announced on social media between 23 and 28 of February, were also recognized at the 2023 AAAS Annual Meeting, held in Washington, D.C., March 2-5. The winning individuals and teams were honoured with tribute videos and received commemorative plaques during several plenary sessions.

AAAS Press release

Spanish version

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