NASA'S new mission to Mars will measure the planet’s temperature for the first time to decode how the massive mountains on the Martian surface formed. Detecting this escaping heat will be a crucial part of InSight mission, managed by NASA.
InSight, which is scheduled to land on Mars on November 26, will be the first mission to study its deep interior.
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Mars has some of the tallest mountains in the solar system. They include Olympus Mons, a volcano nearly three times the height of Mount Everest, NASA said in a statement.
The probe will use its Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3) instrument to measure heat as it is conducted from the interior to the planet’s surface, NASA said.
The way heat moves through a planet’s mantle and crust determines what surface features it will have, said JPL’s Sue Smrekar, the mission’s deputy principal investigator.
“Most of the planet’s geology is a result of heat,” Smrekar said.
“Volcanic eruptions in the ancient past were driven by the flow of this heat, pushing up and constructing the towering mountains Mars is famous for,” said Smrekar.
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The mountain borders a region called the Tharsis plateau, where three equally awe-inspiring volcanoes dominate the landscape.
While scientists have modelled the interior structure of Mars, InSight will provide the first opportunity to find ground truth—by literally looking below the ground.