Another robotic explorer is bound for the Red Planet to investigate its interior
No planet has captured the imagination of planetary explorers quite like Mars. In May, NASA will launch InSight (Interior Exploration Using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport), a lander that will look into the heart of the Red Planet.
InSight is due to touch down on the Martian surface in November on Elysium Planitia, a flat area near the planet’s equator. Once there it will examine Mars from surface to core. By feeling for the slight wobble of Mars as it spins, taking seismic measurements and observing the heat flow through the planet, InSight will help planetary scientists on Earth build up a full picture of what’s happening within the Red Planet.
Mars is a planet frozen in time: it has barely changed from its early formation. While Mars was large enough to pull itself into a sphere and differentiate its internal structure into a core, a mantle and a crust, it was so small that it quickly cooled, solidifying the structure in place rather than continuing to evolve as Earth has done. By peering into the planet with Insight, researchers are planning on taking full advantage of this freeze-frame of what early planets looked like.
InSight will delve beneath the Martian surface to discover how planets form