NASA’s InSight mission officially landed on Mars last November, and perhaps unsurprisingly, the media hyped this mission’s purpose on the red planet, including its goal of investigating Mars’ internal planetary mechanisms. But it’s been almost a year since the InSight mission arrived at Mars, and the media has been particularly quiet regarding what the mission has found thus far.
Shortly after landing on Mars, InSight’s sensors immediately began studying the world around it. The seismometer picked up vibrations that told NASA more about the planet’s winds, and an onboard camera recorded time lapses showcasing the water vapor moving through the atmosphere – this told NASA about the direction of that wind.
NASA also commanded InSight to place its seismometer on the ground and to place the mole that would be used to identify the sub-surface temperature on Mars. While the seismometer was successful, the mole unfortunately got stuck, likely because it struck a hard rock beneath the surface. The mole was extracted with the robotic arm, but work is currently underway to place the mole somewhere else.
InSight has thus far detected its first marsquake, a step in the right direction for mapping Mars’ interior, and it’s hoped that the team can get the mole on the right track to better understand the planet’s internal thermals. With this information, planetary scientists hope to learn more about Mars’ history and why it’s the desolate wasteland it is today.