Surface heat flow measurements provide constraints on the distribution of heat-producing radioisotopes and the rate of mantle convection. Heat flux (Q) is the amount of heat flowing through a particular area in a certain amount of time. The two major mechanisms of heat flow in solid planets like Mars are conduction and convection. Conduction transfers energy through crystal lattice vibrations while convection involves the physical movement of materials at different temperatures. Conduction is the primary mechanism of heat transport within the lithosphere, the outer rigid layer of a planet composed of the crust and upper mantle. Convection occurs in the warmer and more deformable lower mantle, also called the astheno-sphere. Convection likely also occurs within the core, particularly if the core is still molten. Convection occurs not only in fluids but also solids, which can deform under high pressure and temperature conditions. Convection in solids is called solidstate convection.
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