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Pre-mission InSights on the Interior of Mars

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Christensen,  Ulrich R.
Department Planets and Comets, Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Smrekar, S. E., Lognonné, P., Spohn, T., Banerdt, W. B., Breuer, D., Christensen, U. R., et al. (2019). Pre-mission InSights on the Interior of Mars. Space Science Reviews, 215: 3. doi:10.1007/s11214-018-0563-9.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0003-B728-2
Abstract
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.