InSight - Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport

InSight - Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport

InSight is a NASA Discovery Program mission that will place a single geophysical lander on Mars to study its deep interior. By using geophysical instruments, InSight will delve deep beneath the surface of Mars, detecting the fingerprints of the processes of terrestrial planet formation, as well as measuring the planet's "vital signs": its "pulse" (seismology, measured with the SEIS instrument), "temperature" (heat flow probe, named HP3), and "reflexes" (precision tracking instrument named RISE).

The MPS participates with a contribution to the seismic instrument SEIS. This Mars-seismometer is a highly sensitive instrument, which measures ground motion in the range of a billionth of millimeters. Therefore, it is essential to level the instrument as precisely as possible to compensate, for example, surface tilt at the landing site. The MPS contributes a mechanical frame with control electronics that ensures a precise leveling and good coupling to the ground.

Mars’ surface geology shows clear signs of faulting and marsquakes. Even today, regular vibrations  of the surface are expected, although the intensity and number of quakes  is likely smaller than on Earth. Estimates anticipate more than 100 detectable quakes during SEIS’ scheduled observation period. For both the Earth and the moon, the analysis of seismic waves triggered by earthquakes and moonquakes contributed significantly to our present picture of their interior structure and composition. . A similar gain in knowledge is expected for Mars. Furthermore, information on Mars’  interior structure will further our understanding of the processes that took place during the formation of terrestrial planets.

The launch date for the mission is May 2018, with arrival on Mars scheduled for November 2018. InSight will perform scientific measurements during at least one Mars year beginning in January 2019.

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