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, chemistry, atmosphere, and searched for past or present life, InSight focused for the first time on the deep interior of the planet, investigating the processes of terrestrial planet formation and evolution. Up until its demise last December from dust-covered solar arrays, it performed 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. InSight has provided 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. The InSight Principal Investigator will describe the mission, its science goals and some of its outstanding scientific results.
Dr. Bruce Banerdt is a planetary geophysicist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He holds a B.S. in Physics and a Ph.D. in Geophysics from the University of Southern California and has worked in the Earth and Space Sciences Division of JPL since 1977. Dr. Banerdt has served on numerous NASA, National Academy of Sciences and DLR, advisory panels on planetary and space science and has published over 140 journal articles, reports and book chapters. His research focuses on the geological history of the planet Mars and geophysical investigations of the interiors of terrestrial planets using analyses of gravity, magnetic, topographic and seismic data. In addition to a staggering number of unselected planetary instrument and mission proposals, he has participated in several planetary flight instrument teams, including the MOLA altimeter on Mars Global Surveyor and the Imaging Radar on Magellan. He served as Project Scientist for the Spirit and Opportunity rovers for six years before heading up the successful NASA Discovery Program Proposal for the InSight Mission. He has been Principal Investigator for InSight since 2011.