NASA’s InSight Spacecraft Will Explore Interior of Mars

Artist image of the InSight spacecraft exploring a rocky planet such as Mars.NASA’s Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) will be the first interplanetary mission to take off from the West Coast. InSight is targeted to launch at 4:05 a.m. PDT (7:05 a.m. EDT) from Space Launch Complex-3 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.

InSight is a NASA Discovery Program mission that will place a single geophysical lander on Mars to study its deep interior. The terrestrial planet explorer will open a window into the processes that shaped the rocky planets of the inner solar system (including Earth) more than 4.5 billion years ago. Using sophisticated geophysical instruments, InSight will address fundamental questions about the formation of Earth-like planets by detecting the fingerprints of those processes buried deep within the interior of Mars.

The InSight lander is equipped with two science instruments that will conduct the first “check-up” of Mars, measuring its “pulse,” or internal activity, along with its temperature and “reflexes,” or the way the planet wobbles when it is pulled by the Sun and its moons.

The science payload comprises two instruments: the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS), provided by the French Space Agency, with the participation of the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (IPGP), the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Imperial College and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The second instrument, the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3), is provided by the German Space Agency. Also, the Rotation and Interior Structure Experiment (RISE), led by JPL, will use the spacecraft communication system to provide precise measurements of planetary rotation.

InSight’s lander will spend two years investigating the deep interior of Mars. For more information visit the InSight mission overview.