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Inisght Mission landed successfully

27. Nov 2018

InSight, one of the most important planetary missions for geophysics landed successfully on the Red Planet.

InSight’s team hopes that by studying the deep interior of Mars, we can learn how other rocky worlds, including Earth and the Moon, formed. Our home planet and Mars were molded from the same primordial material more than 4.5 billion years ago, but then became quite different. Why didn’t they share the same fate? When it comes to rocky planets, we’ve only studied one in detail: Earth. By comparing Earth’s interior to that of Mars, InSight’s team members hope to better understand our solar system. What they learn might even aid the search for Earth-like exoplanets, narrowing down which ones might be able to support life. So while InSight is a Mars mission, it’s also much more than a Mars mission.

Scientists currently believe that plate tectonics is not active on Mars. However, over the course of the two years they expect that meteorite impacts or contractions caused by Mars’ cooling will produce seismic events that are strong enough to be observed by the seismometer.

LMU Munich alumni Lion Krischer, Martin van Driel and Simon Stähler now work on using the seismological data recorded during InSight. Specifically, they generated a catalogue of various Mars models, consolidating all available knowledge about the planet, and used this to calculate synthetic seismic data as might be received from Mars. Their visualisation of one of these models was broadcast by NASA and can be found here. Prof. Heiner Igel, who was invited to the original NASA viewing site in Lompoc during launch of the InSight mission in May this year, summarises the historic moment as “This is the first real seismometer beyond moon!”

(Alice Gabriel)
by Hans-Peter Bunge last modified 29. Nov 2018 14:34
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Printed 17. Dec 2018 08:59