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Insight... into the early evolution of terrestrial planets.
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Science

Overview

  • InSight's primary objective will be to uncover how a rocky body forms and evolves to become a planet. Generally, a rocky body begins its formation through a process called accretion. As the body increases in size, its interior heats up and melts. As it subsequently cools and recrystallizes it evolves into what we know today as a terrestrial planet, containing a core, mantle and crust. While all of the terrestrial planets share similar structures and their bulk compositions are roughly the same as the meteoritic material from which they were formed, they are by no means uniform. Each of the terrestrial planets reached their current formation and structure through a process known as differentiation, which is poorly understood. InSight's goal will be to solve the mystery of differentiation in planetary formation - and to bridge the gap of understanding that lies between accretion, and the final formation of a terrestrial planet's core, mantle, and crust.
  • The mission's secondary objective is to conduct an in-depth study of tectonic activity and meteorite impacts on Mars, both of which could provide valuable knowledge about such processes on Earth.
To achieve each of these objectives, InSight will conduct six investigations at the Martian surface.
InSight deployed
This is a still image from the animation, showing the spacecraft deployed.


Investigations

The InSight mission will conduct six science investigations on and below the surface of Mars to uncover the evolutionary history that shaped all of the rocky planets in the inner solar system. It will:

  • Determine the size, composition, physical state (liquid/solid) of the Martian core
  • Determine the thickness and structure of the Martian crust
  • Determine the composition and structure of the Martian mantle
  • Determine the thermal state of Mars' interior
  • Measure the magnitude, rate and geographical distribution of Mars' internal seismic activity
  • Measure the rate of meteorite impacts on the surface of Mars

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Last Updated: 1 Jul 2013