Discoveries on the planet Mars


A series of articles published in Nature Geoscience, the prestigious monthly international scientific journal, is devoted to the first results of the Mars mission InSight. The contributions made by the Royal Observatory of Belgium are acknowledged.

InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport), the last spacecraft to land on Mars, has been carrying out research on the Blue Planet since the end of November 2018. This NASA-led scientific mission is far from over. But the results already obtained after the first ten months of exploration can be largely credited to the contributions made by the Royal Observatory of Belgium. 

Firstly, Sébastien Le Maistre from the Observatory, along with his American colleague, was responsible for analysing the data needed to locate the InSight landing site, which is the necessary condition for the successful continuation of a mission that began with the study of the surrounding geology. 

Bart Van Hove and Özgür Karatekin, also from the Observatory, worked on the glide path of the spacecraft, contributing to the collection of data on the Martian atmosphere with a view to subsequently building weather and climate models of the Red Planet. 

Attilio Rivoldini and Véronique Dehant, also from the Observatory, were part of the team of researchers that located and analysed the seismic data from 3 of the 174 "tremors" on Mars. 

Many other major discoveries are expected during this first mission dedicated to studying the deep interior of Mars.