The InSight Mission HP3 Experiment: The First Heat-Flow Determination on Mars and an Opportunity for Collecting Parameters for Use of Heat-Pumps on Mars
With a launch window starting on May 5, 2017, the InSight (Interior exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) Mission to Mars will be the first lander dedicated to geophysical measurements on the closest planet to Earth in terms of habitability. Landing is scheduled for November 26, 2018, and the landing site is in the lowlands at about 4oN. The instruments to be deployed on the surface are a broadband seismometer, and a self-penetrating temperature and thermal conductivity probe (HP3) to determine heat flow up to a depth of 5 m (~16.4 feet). The main goal of InSight is to help understand how rocky planets formed and evolved. The primary mission is for the seismometer and heat-flow probe to collect data for one Mars year (687 days). Mars heat flow is likely to be low (~25 mW/m2), and the potential for recovering heat from the Mars interior for heating human habitations or for other direct heat use is low. However, ground-source heat pumps, powered by solar energy, may be a viable option for producing domestic, agricultural, and low-grade industrial heat on Mars. The InSight heat-flow experiment will produce the first measurement of the thermal gradient in the Mars regolith and measurements of the thermal conductivity and thermal diffusivity of the upper layers (upper 5 m) of the regolith. These parameters are required to assess the possibility of using ground-source heat-pumps on Mars. In addition, the penetration of the heat-flow probe will provide geotechnical information about the upper layers of the regolith and seismic signals recorded from the probe penetration may yield information about layering in the subsurface at the landing site. Thus, although the scientific goals of the InSight are planet-wide in extent, important data will also be collected at the habitation module scale relevant to human exploration of Mars.
AAPG Datapages/Search and Discovery Article #90291 ©2017 AAPG Annual Convention and Exhibition, Houston, Texas, April 2-5, 2017