Atmospheric Science with InSight

Aymeric Spiga*, Don Banfield, Nicholas A. Teanby, François Forget, Antoine Lucas, Balthasar Kenda, Jose Antonio Rodriguez Manfredi, Rudolf Widmer-Schnidrig, Naomi Murdoch, Mark T. Lemmon, Raphaël F. Garcia, Léo Martire, Özgür Karatekin, Sébastien Le Maistre, Bart Van Hove, Véronique Dehant, Philippe Lognonné, Nils Mueller, Ralph Lorenz, David MimounSébastien Rodriguez, Éric Beucler, Ingrid Daubar, Matthew P. Golombek, Tanguy Bertrand, Yasuhiro Nishikawa, Ehouarn Millour, Lucie Rolland, Quentin Brissaud, Taichi Kawamura, Antoine Mocquet, Roland Martin, John Clinton, Éléonore Stutzmann, Tilman Spohn, Suzanne Smrekar, William B. Banerdt

*Corresponding author for this work

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

97 Citations (Scopus)
294 Downloads (Pure)


In November 2018, for the first time a dedicated geophysical station, the InSight lander, will be deployed on the surface of Mars. Along with the two main geophysical packages, the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS) and the Heat-Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3), the InSight lander holds a highly sensitive pressure sensor (PS) and the Temperature and Winds for InSight (TWINS) instrument, both of which (along with the InSight FluxGate (IFG) Magnetometer) form the Auxiliary Sensor Payload Suite (APSS). Associated with the RADiometer (RAD) instrument which will measure the surface brightness temperature, and the Instrument Deployment Camera (IDC) which will be used to quantify atmospheric opacity, this will make InSight capable to act as a meteorological station at the surface of Mars. While probing the internal structure of Mars is the primary scientific goal of the mission, atmospheric science remains a key science objective for InSight. InSight has the potential to provide a more continuous and higher-frequency record of pressure, air temperature and winds at the surface of Mars than previous in situ missions. In the paper, key results from multiscale meteorological modeling, from Global Climate Models to Large-Eddy Simulations, are described as a reference for future studies based on the InSight measurements during operations. We summarize the capabilities of InSight for atmospheric observations, from profiling during Entry, Descent and Landing to surface measurements (pressure, temperature, winds, angular momentum), and the plans for how InSight’s sensors will be used during operations, as well as possible synergies with orbital observations. In a dedicated section, we describe the seismic impact of atmospheric phenomena (from the point of view of both “noise” to be decorrelated from the seismic signal and “signal” to provide information on atmospheric processes). We discuss in this framework Planetary Boundary Layer turbulence, with a focus on convective vortices and dust devils, gravity waves (with idealized modeling), and large-scale circulations. Our paper also presents possible new, exploratory, studies with the InSight instrumentation: surface layer scaling and exploration of the Monin-Obukhov model, aeolian surface changes and saltation / lifing studies, and monitoring of secular pressure changes. The InSight mission will be instrumental in broadening the knowledge of the Martian atmosphere, with a unique set of measurements from the surface of Mars.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109
Number of pages64
JournalSpace Science Reviews
Issue number7
Early online date2 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018


  • Atmospheric science
  • InSight
  • Mars
  • Planetary atmospheres


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