The project main steps
INSIGHT (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) is a mission of NASA's Mars Discovery Program. Set to launch in 2016, the mission will place a single geophysical lander on Mars to study its deep interior.
InSight's primary objective is to uncover how a rocky body forms and evolves to become a planet by studying the size, thickness, density and overall structure of the Red Planet's core, mantle and crust, as well as the rate at which heat escapes from the planet's interior. The mission's secondary objective is to conduct an in-depth study of tectonic activity and meteorite impacts on Mars, both of which could provide valuable knowledge about such processes on Earth.
The mission is led by W. Bruce Banerdt of JPL. InSight's science team includes U.S. and international co-investigators from universities, industry and government agencies.
To achieve each of its scientific objectives, the lander InSight will have two scientific instruments:
- Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS), provided by the French Space Agency (CNES), with the participation of the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (IPGP) and of the Institut Supérieur de l'Aéronautique et de l'Espace (ISAE), the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS), Imperial College and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).
- Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP³), provided by the German Space Agency (DLR).
In addition, the Rotation and Interior Structure Experiment (RISE), led by JPL, will use the spacecraft communication system to provide precise measurements of planetary rotation. Insight will also incorporate two cameras and a robotic arm that will serve to guide the deployment of the instruments to the ground.
CNES insures, for all national partners (laboratories), the prime contractorship for the French instrument contribution to INSIGHT.