NASA’s InSight mission for Mars

News: Recently, the findings of 10 months of NASA’s InSight mission on Mars are described in a set of six papers.

Facts:

About InSight mission:

  • The Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy, and Heat Transport (InSight) mission is a robotic lander designed to study the deep interior of the planet Mars
  • The mission is part of NASA’s Discovery Program. It is supported by a number of European partners, which include France’s Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES), the German Aerospace Center (DLR), and the United Kingdom Space Agency (UKSA).

Objectives of the mission:

  • To uncover how a rocky body forms and evolves to become a planet by investigating the interior structure and composition of Mars. 
  • To determine the rate of Martian tectonic activity and meteorite impacts.

Key findings of the InSight mission:

Seismically active:

  • Mars is seismically active through the detection of hundreds of quakes some of which can be traced to a volcanic region nearly 1,000 miles away.
  • However, Mars doesn’t have tectonic plates like Earth, but it does have volcanically active regions that can cause rumbles.

Magnetism:

  • Billions of years ago, Mars used to have a global magnetic field.But that’s no longer the case as what is left behind are what NASA describes as ghosts i.e magnetized rocks that are between 61 m to several km below ground.
  • However, the mission has also found that the field surrounding the lander has 10 times stronger magnetic field than that predicted by scientists.

Dust Devils:

  • The weather sensors have detected thousands of passing whirlwinds, which are called dust devils.
  • However, despite detecting the dust devils, the lander has been unable to capture one on camera.
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