The illustration shows Mars split in half with a glowing interior that gets hotter the deeper into the planet it goes.
Artist’s rendition showing the inner structure of Mars. The topmost layer is known as the crust, underneath it is the mantle, which rests on a solid inner core.


InSight studied the deep interior of Mars and was designed to take the planet's vital signs: its pulse, temperature, and reflexes. InSight was the first mission to give Mars a thorough checkup since the planet formed 4.5 billion years ago.

Previous missions to the Red Planet investigated its surface by studying its canyons, volcanoes, rocks, and soil. But the signatures of the planet's formation can only be found by sensing and studying its vital signs farther below the surface.

Seismograph waves are superimposed over an illustration of Mars.
An artist's rendition of Mars, highlighting one of InSight's goals -- to figure out just how tectonically active Mars is today and how often meteorites impact it.


The InSight mission had two major goals, each with several science investigations, designed to help uncover the process that shaped all of the rocky planets in the inner solar system.

  1. To understand how rocky planets formed and evolved, InSight studied the interior structure and processes of Mars by determining:
    • The size of the core, what it is made of, and whether it is liquid or solid.
    • The thickness and structure of the crust.
    • The structure of the mantle and what it is made of.
    • How warm the interior is and how much heat is still flowing through.
  2. InSight will figure out just how tectonically active Mars is today, and how often meteorites impacted it. For this, it will measure:
    • How powerful and frequent internal seismic activity is on Mars, and where it is located within the structure of the planet.
    • How often meteorites impact the surface of Mars.

Science Highlights

With four years on the Red Planet, InSight captured the ‘vital signs’ of Mars, giving the planet its first thorough checkup since it formed 4.5 billion years ago.