Pre-mission InSights on the Interior of Mars

Suzanne E. Smrekar*, Philippe Lognonné, Tilman Spohn, W. Bruce Banerdt, Doris Breuer, Ulrich Christensen, Véronique Dehant, Mélanie Drilleau, William Folkner, Nobuaki Fuji, Raphael F. Garcia, Domenico Giardini, Matthew Golombek, Matthias Grott, Tamara Gudkova, Catherine Johnson, Amir Khan, Benoit Langlais, Anna Mittelholz, Antoine MocquetRobert Myhill, Mark Panning, Clément Perrin, Tom Pike, Ana Catalina Plesa, Attilio Rivoldini, Henri Samuel, Simon C. Stähler, Martin van Driel, Tim Van Hoolst, Olivier Verhoeven, Renee Weber, Mark Wieczorek

*Corresponding author for this work

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

46 Citations (Scopus)
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The Interior exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy, and Heat Transport (InSight) Mission will focus on Mars’ interior structure and evolution. The basic structure of crust, mantle, and core form soon after accretion. Understanding the early differentiation process on Mars and how it relates to bulk composition is key to improving our understanding of this process on rocky bodies in our solar system, as well as in other solar systems. Current knowledge of differentiation derives largely from the layers observed via seismology on the Moon. However, the Moon’s much smaller diameter make it a poor analog with respect to interior pressure and phase changes. In this paper we review the current knowledge of the thickness of the crust, the diameter and state of the core, seismic attenuation, heat flow, and interior composition. InSight will conduct the first seismic and heat flow measurements of Mars, as well as more precise geodesy. These data reduce uncertainty in crustal thickness, core size and state, heat flow, seismic activity and meteorite impact rates by a factor of 3 – 10 × relative to previous estimates. Based on modeling of seismic wave propagation, we can further constrain interior temperature, composition, and the location of phase changes. By combining heat flow and a well constrained value of crustal thickness, we can estimate the distribution of heat producing elements between the crust and mantle. All of these quantities are key inputs to models of interior convection and thermal evolution that predict the processes that control subsurface temperature, rates of volcanism, plume distribution and stability, and convective state. Collectively these factors offer strong controls on the overall evolution of the geology and habitability of Mars.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3
Number of pages72
JournalSpace Science Reviews
Issue number1
Early online date17 Dec 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2019


  • Core
  • Crust
  • Geodesy
  • Heat flow
  • InSight
  • Interior
  • Mantle
  • Mars
  • Seismology


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