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2022 MAY 14

Preliminary   > Science and Technology   >   Space technology   >   Space organisations & missions

Why in news?

  • NASA has reported that its InSight Mars lander has detected the largest quake ever observed on another planet.

About Marsquake:

  • On Earth, quakes are caused by shifts in tectonic plates. However, Mars does not have tectonic plates and its crust is a giant plate, therefore, NASA notes, ‘marsquakes’ are caused due to stresses that cause rock fractures or faults in their crust.

What is the Insight Mission?

  • The Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy, and Heat Transport (InSight) mission is a robotic lander designed to study the deep interior of the planet Mars
  • The mission is part of NASA’s Discovery Program.
  • It is supported by a number of European partners, which include France’s Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES), the German Aerospace Center (DLR), and the United Kingdom Space Agency (UKSA).

What is InSight doing on Mars?

  • InSight is not looking for life on Mars but is studying what Mars is made of, how its material is layered and how much heat seeps out of it.
  • This is important because Earth and Mars used to be similar — warm, wet and shrouded in thick atmospheres — before they took different paths 3-4 billion years ago. Mars stopped changing, while Earth continued to evolve.

Add ons:

  • Scientists are curious about Mars because of the possible presence of liquid water on it either in the past or preserved in its subsurface.
  • This question makes the planet more intriguing for scientists since almost everywhere there is water on Earth, there is life.
  • If Mars harboured a warmer atmosphere enabling water to flow in its ancient past and if microbial life existed on it, it is possible that it exists in “special regions” even today.
  • Some other missions studying the possibility of life on Mars include UAE’s Hope, China’s Tianwen-1 and NASA’s Perseverance.


‘Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) Mission’, recently seen in news, aims to study the interior of the:

(a) Mars

(b) Venus

(c) Sun

(d) Moon