A Pre-Landing Assessment of Regolith Properties at the InSight Landing Site

Paul Morgan*, Matthias Grott, Brigitte Knapmeyer-Endrun, Matt Golombek, Pierre Delage, Philippe Lognonné, Sylvain Piqueux, Ingrid Daubar, Naomi Murdoch, Constantinos Charalambous, William T. Pike, Nils Müller, Axel Hagermann, Matt Siegler, Roy Lichtenheldt, Nick Teanby, Sharon Kedar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article (Academic Journal)peer-review

60 Citations (Scopus)
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This article discusses relevant physical properties of the regolith at the Mars InSight landing site as understood prior to landing of the spacecraft. InSight will land in the northern lowland plains of Mars, close to the equator, where the regolith is estimated to be ≥3–5m thick. These investigations of physical properties have relied on data collected from Mars orbital measurements, previously collected lander and rover data, results of studies of data and samples from Apollo lunar missions, laboratory measurements on regolith simulants, and theoretical studies. The investigations include changes in properties with depth and temperature. Mechanical properties investigated include density, grain-size distribution, cohesion, and angle of internal friction. Thermophysical properties include thermal inertia, surface emissivity and albedo, thermal conductivity and diffusivity, and specific heat. Regolith elastic properties not only include parameters that control seismic wave velocities in the immediate vicinity of the Insight lander but also coupling of the lander and other potential noise sources to the InSight broadband seismometer. The related properties include Poisson’s ratio, P- and S-wave velocities, Young’s modulus, and seismic attenuation. Finally, mass diffusivity was investigated to estimate gas movements in the regolith driven by atmospheric pressure changes. Physical properties presented here are all to some degree speculative. However, they form a basis for interpretation of the early data to be returned from the InSight mission.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104
Number of pages47
JournalSpace Science Reviews
Issue number6
Early online date23 Aug 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2018


  • InSight landing site
  • Mars
  • Physical properties
  • Regolith


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