Nov. 27, 2018

NASA’s InSight Mars Lander successfully landed on Mars to study the internal structure and rotation of Mars. The landing site is “Elysium Planitia”.


  • InSight is an acronym for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport.

  • Mission’s Twin Objectives:
    • Formation & Evolution: Understand the formation and evolution of terrestrial planets through investigation of the interior structure and processes of Mars.

    • Tectonic Activity: Determine the present level of tectonic activity and meteorite impact rate on Mars.

  • Mission Detail:
    • InSight won’t be looking for life on Mars. Instead It will study its insides i.e. what it’s made of, how that material is layered and how much heat seeps out of it.

    • This is important because Earth and Mars used to be similar before, they took different paths 3-4 billion years ago. Mars stopped changing, while Earth continued to evolve.

    • With InSight, scientists hope to compare Earth to Mars, and better understand how a planet’s starting materials make it more or less likely to support life.

  • Mission Duration: InSight is on a 24-month mission.

  • Equipment’s:
    • The lander carries a robotic arm 1.8 m long.

    • It is powered by two solar panels, and carries a seismometer, heat probe and a radio science experiment. Two complementary engineering cameras help with navigation and hazard avoidance.

  • Agencies involved: This mission is part of “NASA's Discovery Program” for highly focused science missions that ask critical questions in solar system science.

  • Significance: It is the first mission to study in-depth the "inner space" of Mars: its crust, mantle, and core.

First CubeSat to Deep Space:

  • The rocket that launched InSight also launched a separate NASA technology experiment: two mini-spacecraft called Mars Cube One, or MarCO. These briefcase-sized CubeSats fly on their own path to Mars behind InSight.

  • Their goal is to test new miniaturized deep space communication equipment and, if the MarCOs make it to Mars, may relay back InSight data as it enters the Martian atmosphere and lands.

  • This is the first test of miniaturized CubeSat technology at another planet, which researchers hope can offer new capabilities to future missions.