Speaker: Dr. W. Bruce Banerdt, principal investigator, InSight Mission to Mars - Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology
After more than 10 years of planning, design, building and testing, InSight touched down in the Elysium Planitia region of Mars on November 26, 2018. In contrast to the 45 previous missions to Mars which have (when they survived) thoroughly explored its surface features and chemistry, atmosphere, and searched for past or present life, InSight focuses for the first time on the deep interior of the planet, investigating the processes of terrestrial planet formation and evolution. It is performing the first comprehensive surface-based geophysical measurements on Mars, using seismology and precision tracking to shed light on its fundamental structure, from crust to core. This is providing key information on the composition and structure of an Earth-like planet that has gone through most of the evolutionary stages of the Earth up to, but not including, plate tectonics. I will describe the mission and its science goals, some early scientific results, and give an update on its current status on the surface of Mars.