NASA’s Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport or InSight mission landed on Mars on November 26, 2018, and has been providing us with science data ever since. The mission helped scientists come to a new understanding of the red planet, thanks to the first year of the InSight lander mission.
Findings from Insight lander mission described in a set of six papers reveal a planet alive with quakes, dust devils and strange magnetic pulses, NASA said in a press release. The agency also informed that five of the papers were published in journal Nature and an additional paper in Nature Geoscience, which details the InSight spacecraft’s landing site — a shallow crater nicknamed “Homestead hollow” — in a region called Elysium Planitia.
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NASA’s InSight is the first mission dedicated to looking deep beneath the Martian surface. The lander carries a seismometer to detect quakes, sensors for gauging wind and air pressure, a magnetometer, and a heat flow probe designed to take the planet’s temperature.
NASA said that the first results reported from NASA’s Insight mission on Mars include evidence for locally strong crustal magnetisation, unexpected atmospheric processes, and marsquakes from distant, enigmatic sources. Some of the marsquakes detected by seismometer onboard the InSight can be traced to Cerberus Fossae– a region that may be tectonically active, NASA added.
The space agency also said that InSight’s geophysical measurement provides information about Mars’ interior structure and evolution. “While the team continues to work on getting the probe into the Martian surface as intended, the ultra-sensitive seismometer, called the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS), has enabled scientists to ‘hear’ multiple trembling events from hundreds to thousands of miles away,” NASA said.
Since the seismic waves are affected by the materials they move through, they provide scientists with a way to study the composition of the planet’s inner structure. The InSight lander with its study of Mars’ surface can help scientists better understand how all rocky planets, including Earth, first formed.
NASA said that this first year of data is just a start. “Watching over a full Martian year (two Earth years) will give scientists a much better idea of the size and speed of the planet’s wobble,” the space agency added.
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