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Initial results from the InSight mission on Mars


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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Fig. 1: Context Map.

MOLA Science Team.

Fig. 2: The InSight weather station’s continuous high-frequency coverage monitors the atmospheric activity from large-scale weather to small-scale turbulence.
Fig. 3: Multiple phenomena contribute to the magnetic field measured by the IFG.
Fig. 4: Marsquakes have similarities and differences with earthquakes.
Fig. 5: Cumulative annual activity rate for Mars compared with Earth, the Moon and pre-mission predictions for Mars.

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Data availability

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 The InSight seismic event catalogue4 and waveform data3 are available from the IRIS-DMC and SEIS-InSight data portal ( Seismic waveforms as well as data from all other InSight instruments and MOLA topographic data are available from NASA PDS ( 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


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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.

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Authors and Affiliations



The scientific results of the InSight mission are the result of a team effort, with all the listed authors contributing to aspects of the design, implementation and analysis of results. W.B.B. and S.E.S. are the Principal Investigator and Deputy Principal Investigator, respectively, of the InSight mission, and jointly and equally supervised and participated in the work described in the manuscript, as well as contributed substantially to writing the manuscript. P.L., along with D.G. and W.T.P., co-led the design and implementation of the SEIS experiment. U.C., D.M. and J.T. contributed to the design and implementation of SEIS. C.B., E.B., J.C., J.C.E.I., S. Kedar, B.K.-E., M.K., L.M., A. Mocquet, F.N., M.P., A.-C.P., M.P., N.S. and R.W. contributed to seismic data analysis. P.L. and W.T.P. led the SEIS performance testing, assisted by M.D., B.K.-E., R.F.G., S. King, T.K., D.M. and N.M. D.B. and A.S. co-led the atmospheric science investigation and contributed to writing the manuscript, with N.B., M.L. and C.N. providing input. J.A.R.-M. contributed to the design, implementation and analysis of the atmospheric science investigation. R.F.G. and R.L. contributed to the joint interpretation of the seismic and atmospheric science investigations. J.N.M. led the imaging experiment and contributed to interpretation of results. M. Golombek led the geology investigation and contributed to writing the manuscript, with J. Garvin, J. Grant, S.R. and N.W. providing input. C.L.J. and C.T.R. co-led the magnetic investigation and contributed to writing the manuscript, with input from P.C., M.F. and A. Mittelholz. I.D. led the impact cratering investigation, interpretation of results and write-up for this manuscript, with G.S.C. and N.T. providing contributions. V.D. and W.F. co-led the geodesy investigation and contributed to interpretation of the results, with S.A. providing contributions. T.S. led the heat flow investigation and contributed to writing the manuscript. M. Grott, J. Grygorczuk, T.H., G.K., P.M., N.T.M., S.N., M.S. and S.E.S. contributed to the design, implementation and analysis of the heat flow investigation. C.P. led the analysis and the writing of the regolith properties from ground deformation described in the Supplementary Discussion, with contributions from N.M., M.D., S.R., M.L., E.S., T.K., P.L., A.S. and D.B. S.C.S. led the analysis and writing of the seismic activity estimate described in the Methods, with M.K., M.v.D. and D.G. providing contributions. D.A., S. King, S.M.M., C.M., S.S. and M.W. contributed to the interpretation of the planetary interior results.

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Correspondence to W. Bruce Banerdt or Suzanne E. Smrekar.

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Peer review information Primary Handling Editors: Tamara Goldin; Stefan Lachowycz.

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Extended data

Extended Data Fig. 1 Instrument Payload.

Description of the complete set of scientific instruments carried by the InSight lander[8,9,10,25,50,51,52].

Extended Data Fig. 2 Probability of marsquake detection.

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.

Extended Data Fig. 3 Correction of numbers of events for variable noise across observation window.

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.

Extended Data Fig. 5 Corrected distribution of events with magnitude.

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).

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