NASA’s InSight (Interior exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) mission landed in Elysium Planitia on Mars on 26 November 2018. It aims to determine the interior structure, composition and thermal state of Mars, as well as constrain present-day seismicity and impact cratering rates. Such information is key to understanding the differentiation and subsequent thermal evolution of Mars, and thus the forces that shape the planet’s surface geology and volatile processes. Here we report an overview of the first ten months of geophysical observations by InSight. As of 30 September 2019, 174 seismic events have been recorded by the lander’s seismometer, including over 20 events of moment magnitude Mw = 3–4. The detections thus far are consistent with tectonic origins, with no impact-induced seismicity yet observed, and indicate a seismically active planet. An assessment of these detections suggests that the frequency of global seismic events below approximately Mw = 3 is similar to that of terrestrial intraplate seismic activity, but there are fewer larger quakes; no quakes exceeding Mw = 4 have been observed. The lander’s other instruments—two cameras, atmospheric pressure, temperature and wind sensors, a magnetometer and a radiometer—have yielded much more than the intended supporting data for seismometer noise characterization: magnetic field measurements indicate a local magnetic field that is ten-times stronger than orbital estimates and meteorological measurements reveal a more dynamic atmosphere than expected, hosting baroclinic and gravity waves and convective vortices. With the mission due to last for an entire Martian year or longer, these results will be built on by further measurements by the InSight lander.
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The data shown in the plots within this paper and other findings of this study are available from the corresponding authors W.B.B. or S.E.S. upon reasonable request. The InSight Mission raw and calibrated data sets are available via NASA’s Planetary Data System (PDS). Data are delivered to the PDS according to the InSight Data Management Plan available in the InSight PDS archive. All datasets can be accessed at https://pds-geosciences.wustl.edu/missions/insight/index.html. The InSight seismic event catalogue4 and waveform data3 are available from the IRIS-DMC and SEIS-InSight data portal (https://www.seis-insight.eu/en/science). Seismic waveforms as well as data from all other InSight instruments and MOLA topographic data are available from NASA PDS (https://pds.nasa.gov/). The terrestrial stations CH.DAVOX and CH.FIESA are part of the Swiss Seismic Network44. The data from these stations are accessible from the Incorporated Research Institutes for Seismology (IRIS) at https://www.iris.edu/hq.
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A portion of the work was supported by the InSight Project at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). We acknowledge NASA; CNES (Centre Nationale d’Etudes Spatiale); their partner agencies and Institutions UKSA (United Kingdom Space Agency), SSO (Swiss Space Office), DLR (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt), JPL, IPGP-CNRS (Institute de Physique du Globe de Paris-Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique), ETHZ (Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich), IC (Imperial College), MPS-MPG (Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research-Max Planck Gesellschaft); INTA/CSIC-CAB (Instituto Nacional de Técnica Aeroespacial/Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas-Centro Astrobioligía); and the flight operations team at JPL, SISMOC (SEIS on Mars Operations Center), MSDS (Mars SEIS Data Service), IRIS-DMC (Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology-Data Management Center) and PDS (Planetary Data Service) for providing the SEED (Standard for the Exchange of Earthquake Data) SEIS data used in the seismicity analysis. French co-authors acknowledge the French Space Agency CNES, CNRS and ANR (Agence Nationale pour la Recherche) (ANR-10-LABX-0023, ANR-11-IDEX-0005-0). The Swiss co-authors were jointly funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF-ANR project 157133), the Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SEFRI project “MarsQuake Service-Preparatory Phase”) and ETH Research grant ETH-06 17-02. This is LPI (Lunar and Planetary Institute) Contribution No. 2250. LPI is operated by USRA under a cooperative agreement with NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. This is InSight Contribution Number 100.
The authors declare no competing interests.
Peer review information Primary Handling Editors: Tamara Goldin; Stefan Lachowycz.
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Probability to detect a marsquake of a certain distance and magnitude, given the expected source spectrum2 and the distribution of ambient noise over sols 85-325. The colored crosses mark the 13 events described in the main article with their uncertainties in distance and magnitude Mw; numerical labels refer to event names in Giardini et al.2 (e.g., 167a corresponds to event S0167a). The black region is where the event would have never surpassed the ambient noise, the grey region is where it would have been observable only 10% of the time.
Events with magnitude Mw = 2.8 are counted 4 times, events with MW = 3.8 are counted 2 times, with linear interpolation in between. Distances and magnitudes are based on waveform alignment and the spectral magnitude MMaFB (see Giardini et al.2 for a full discussion of marsquake magnitudes).
Extended Data Fig. 4 Minimum detectable magnitude for different distances, with the corresponding fractional surface of the planet.
Distances are shown in degrees, where one degree equals ~59 km on Mars.
Distribution of events across magnitude Mw, with the corrections described in the text.
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Banerdt, W.B., Smrekar, S.E., Banfield, D. et al. Initial results from the InSight mission on Mars. Nat. Geosci. 13, 183–189 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41561-020-0544-y
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