In DepthPlanetary Science

NASA lander to probe interior of Mars

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Science  20 Apr 2018:
Vol. 360, Issue 6386, pp. 247-248
DOI: 10.1126/science.360.6386.247

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Next month, NASA will launch the $814 million InSight lander to Mars, meant to peer inside the planet's interior. InSight, which lands in late November, sports three instruments, including a seismometer that will detect "marsquakes." It marks a return to planetary seismology after 4 decades. By capturing quakes caused by the contraction of the planet's crust, and hammering a heat probe down 5 meters below the surface, InSight should allow scientists to measure the thickness and composition of the planet's crust, mantle, and core. Knowing those dimensions should reveal how the planet formed and how it lost its magnetic field, constraining a zoo of potential models.