Space Science Reviews

, 214:104 | Cite as

A Pre-Landing Assessment of Regolith Properties at the InSight Landing Site

  • Paul Morgan
  • Matthias Grott
  • Brigitte Knapmeyer-Endrun
  • Matt Golombek
  • Pierre Delage
  • Philippe Lognonné
  • Sylvain Piqueux
  • Ingrid Daubar
  • Naomi Murdoch
  • Constantinos Charalambous
  • William T. Pike
  • Nils Müller
  • Axel Hagermann
  • Matt Siegler
  • Roy Lichtenheldt
  • Nick Teanby
  • Sharon Kedar
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. The InSight Mission to Mars II


This article discusses relevant physical properties of the regolith at the Mars InSight landing site as understood prior to landing of the spacecraft. InSight will land in the northern lowland plains of Mars, close to the equator, where the regolith is estimated to be \(\geq3\mbox{--}5~\mbox{m}\) thick. These investigations of physical properties have relied on data collected from Mars orbital measurements, previously collected lander and rover data, results of studies of data and samples from Apollo lunar missions, laboratory measurements on regolith simulants, and theoretical studies. The investigations include changes in properties with depth and temperature. Mechanical properties investigated include density, grain-size distribution, cohesion, and angle of internal friction. Thermophysical properties include thermal inertia, surface emissivity and albedo, thermal conductivity and diffusivity, and specific heat. Regolith elastic properties not only include parameters that control seismic wave velocities in the immediate vicinity of the Insight lander but also coupling of the lander and other potential noise sources to the InSight broadband seismometer. The related properties include Poisson’s ratio, P- and S-wave velocities, Young’s modulus, and seismic attenuation. Finally, mass diffusivity was investigated to estimate gas movements in the regolith driven by atmospheric pressure changes. Physical properties presented here are all to some degree speculative. However, they form a basis for interpretation of the early data to be returned from the InSight mission.


Mars Regolith Physical properties InSight landing site 



PM was supported for this work by subcontract no. 1479970 for the InSight Mission from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. A portion of the work described in this paper was supported by the InSight Project at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. This is InSight Contribution Number 39.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul Morgan
    • 1
  • Matthias Grott
    • 2
  • Brigitte Knapmeyer-Endrun
    • 3
  • Matt Golombek
    • 4
  • Pierre Delage
    • 5
  • Philippe Lognonné
    • 6
  • Sylvain Piqueux
    • 4
  • Ingrid Daubar
    • 4
  • Naomi Murdoch
    • 7
  • Constantinos Charalambous
    • 8
  • William T. Pike
    • 8
  • Nils Müller
    • 4
  • Axel Hagermann
    • 9
  • Matt Siegler
    • 10
  • Roy Lichtenheldt
    • 11
  • Nick Teanby
    • 12
  • Sharon Kedar
    • 4
  1. 1.Colorado Geological SurveyColorado School of MinesGoldenUSA
  2. 2.DLR Institute for Planetary ResearchBerlinGermany
  3. 3.Department Planets and CometsMax Plank Institute for Solar System ResearchGöttinggenGermany
  4. 4.Jet Propulsion LaboratoryCalifornia Institute of TechnologyPasadenaUSA
  5. 5.Ecole des Ponts ParisTechLaboratoire Navier (CERMES)ParisFrance
  6. 6.Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris – Sorbonne Paris CitéUniversité Paris DiderotParisFrance
  7. 7.Institut Supérieur de l’Aéronautique et de l’Espace (ISAE-SUPAERO)Université de ToulouseToulouse Cedex 4France
  8. 8.Faculty of Engineering, Department of Electrical and Electronic EngineeringImperial College LondonLondonUK
  9. 9.Faculty of Science Technology and MathematicsThe Open UniversityMilton KeynesUK
  10. 10.Deadman College of Humanities and SciencesSouthern Methodist UniversityDallasUSA
  11. 11.DLR Institute for System Dynamics and ControlOberpfaffenhofen-WeßlingGermany
  12. 12.School of Earth SciencesUniversity of BristolCliftonUK

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