2022 MAY 14
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.
- 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.
- 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: