Geophysical and meteorological measurements by NASA’s InSight lander on Mars reveal a planet that is seismically active and provide information about the interior, surface and atmospheric workings of Mars.
InSight at Mars
NASA’s InSight lander arrived on Mars in late 2018. Primarily a geophysics mission, InSight aims to constrain the planet’s present-day geologic activity and its interior evolution. Here, we present the first results from the InSight mission, including analyses of seismometer, magnetometer, weather station and other instrument data from the lander’s first year on Mars.
The InSight lander has expanded our knowledge of the atmosphere of Mars by observing various phenomena, including airglow, bores, infrasound and Earth-like turbulence.
Mars is seismically active: 24 subcrustal magnitude 3–4 marsquakes and 150 smaller events have been identified up to 30 September 2019, by an analysis of seismometer data from the InSight lander.
The InSight spacecraft landed on Mars on November 2018. Here, the authors characterize the surficial geology of the landing site and compare with observations and models derived from remote sensing data prior to landing and from ongoing in situ geophysical investigations of the subsurface.
The magnetic field measured by the InSight lander on Mars varies daily and is ten times stronger than expected. The field is inferred to originate from components of basement rocks magnetized by an ancient dynamo of Earth-like strength.
The crust beneath the InSight lander on Mars is altered or fractured to 8–11 km depth and may bear volatiles, according to an analysis of seismic noise and wave scattering recorded by InSight’s seismometer.
Mars’s newest seismometer needed to separate marsquakes from meteorology. Continuous weather observations to keep it honest are revealing new facets of Mars’s churning atmosphere.
The InSight mission on Mars is currently providing us with the first seismic data from a planetary body other than our own Earth since the 1970s. Past efforts will inform this next chapter in planetary seismology.