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NASA's InSight will decode how mountains form on Mars



Washington: NASA's InSight spacecraft, which has passed half the mark of Mars, carries a unique instrument that allows scientists to understand what geological processes created the mighty mountains on the Martian surface. InSight stands for Interior Exploration with Seismic Investigations, Geodäsy and Heat Transport.

The Mars Lander carries a unique instrument – Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3) – that is able to measure the heat flowing from the planet. This could provide insight into how the mighty mountains of Mars – which eclipse Mt. Everest here on Earth – first formed, according to a statement by NASA. "Planets are like a motor driven by the heat that moves their inner parts ̵

1; HP3 will lift the hood of Mars for the first time," said Sue Smrekar, HP3 Deputy Director at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California.

The Red Planet is one of the largest mountains in the solar system. This includes Olympus Mons, a volcano that is almost three times as high as Everest. It borders a region called the Tharsis Plateau, where three equally impressive volcanoes dominate the landscape. "Volcanic eruptions in the past have been fueled by the flow of heat that shoots up the mountains Mars is famous for," added Smrekar.

The HP3, built and operated by the German Aerospace Center (DLR), will be placed on the surface of Mars after the arrival of InSight on November 26th. A probe called a mole will beat up the ground, bury itself and pull a tether behind it. Temperature sensors embedded in this band measure the natural internal heat of Mars.

The mole must dig deep enough to escape the large temperature fluctuations of the Martian surface. Even the "body heat" of the spacecraft could interfere with HP3's highly sensitive readings, NASA said. The results of the InSight mission will also show scientists how to make all the rocky planets – including the Earth, their moon, and even planets in other solar systems. (IANS)


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