What's New :
ITS 2025: Integrated Test Series & Mentorship Program for Prelims and Mains. Get Details

NASA’s In Sight mission to Mars

Published: 6th Dec, 2018

NASA's Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) lander successfully landed on the planet Mars.


NASA's Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) lander successfully landed on the planet Mars.


Why Planet Mars?

  • The Mars and Earth are considered twins as both started evolving on similar patterns. Both were warm, wet and shrouded in thick atmospheres.
  • But 3 or 4 billion years ago, they took different paths of evolution. Earth developed a kind of geological "conveyer belt" in the form of tectonic plates which is responsible for releasing life supporting element such carbon dioxide, oxygen etc. While Mars did not develop any tectonic like phenomenon. Insight mission will study the causes responsible for the same.

What kind of evidences Insight will be looking for?

  • InSight won't be looking for life on Mars. But studying its insides such as what it's made of, how that material is layered and how much heat seeps out of it.
  • It would reveal information about why Mar’s magnetic field vanished.
  • The Lander is supposed to provide information about the core of the red planet, whether it is solid, liquid or combination of both.
  • It could help scientists better understand how a planet's starting materials make it more or less likely to support life.

How will Insight gather the information?

Through three of its important components:

(a) Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS):

  • It will provide information on how quakes that can be caused by processes other than just tectonic action could travel through Mars. Understanding how the planet is layered will help scientists work backward, piecing together how dust, metals and ices in the early solar system combined to form the Red Planet.

What creates Seismic waves on Mars?  

  • A number of physical phenomena can create seismic waves, including marsquakes, meteorites striking the surface, landslides, or even the pressure of the wind on the surface. Weather phenomena such as dust devils, can also generate seismic waves.

How will seismic waves help in understanding the interior of the Mars?  

  • As light changes when it passes through water or glass, similarly seismic waves change when they pass through the interior of a planet.
  • How the waves change depends on the material that the interior is made of. SEIS will reveal scientists how the interior of Mars changes waves, helping them figure out which material changed it.

(b) Rotation and Interior Structure Experiment (RISE):

  • Insight has onboard Rotation and Interior Structure Experiment (RISE) which will precisely tracks the location of the Lander to determine just how much Mars' North Pole wobbles as it orbits the sun.
  • These observations will provide detailed information on the size of Mars' iron-rich core, determining whether the core is liquid, and which other elements, besides iron, may be present.

What is Wobbling of North Pole of Mars?

  • It occurs as the sun pushes and pulls it in its orbit. This helps scientists determine the size and composition of Mars' core.
  • Earth completes a wobble every 18 Earth years as it is pushed and pulled by the Moon. Mars completes a wobble every one Mars year (two Earth years).
  • RISE will tell us exactly how much Mars wobbles, using the same technology smartphone uses to provide location.

(C) Heat Flow and Physical Properties Probe (HP3)

  • It will burrows down to almost 16 feet (five meters) into Mars' surface. That's deeper than any previous arms, scoops, drills or probes before it.
  • It will measure the heat coming from Mars' interior to reveal how much heat is flowing out of the body of the planet, and what the source of the heat is.
  • This will help scientists determine whether Mars formed from the same stuff as Earth and the Moon.

How Heat Escapes Mars?

  • Planets have heat within them, and some, like the Earth for example, are hotter than others, such as Mars. Hot elements that were present in the material that first formed the planet, and energy left over from the process of planet formation, are the fuel that produces this heat.
  • It gives rise to magnetic fields, mountains, and movement in the crust, which causes quakes.
  • HP3 studies the heat escaping from Mars to determine how fast the "engine" of the planet is running and what's fueling it.

Verifying, please be patient.

Enquire Now