"Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed" Neil Armstrong
Missions have revealed worlds across the Solar System and beyond. Analyzing data from a different planet is truly amazing and requires incredible determination from everyone involved long before we get our first bits of data to look at. Here some missions that have contributed to our knowledge today and some that could enable new discoveries in the future.
InSight - Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigation, Geodesy and Heat Transport
I am collaborator on InSight and I am co-leading the magnetics working group. Sadly InSight stopped operating in 2022, but its many instruments collected a lot of data that will continue to help us understand the martian interior. The magnetometer was added as auxiliary instrument in case the seismometer would react to magnetic fluctuations (it didn't... ), but it a gave us a unique opportunity to study the martian magnetic field from the surface for the first time!
Me and the JPL InSight model the day before launch in 2018
MAVEN - Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission
While I am not actually part of the MAVEN Science Team I have worked with their magnetics data set a lot. This data set has revolutionized our understanding of magnetic fields on Mars since Mars Global Surveyor. Its low altitude orbits have allowed high resolution magnetic field models and the discovery of previously unresolvable magnetization. As a result we now think that the martian dynamo operated for at least 500 million years longer than previously thought.
MAVEN in orbit around Mars
Helicopters on Mars
YES, this the next step! Regional surveys have the power to revolutionize our understanding of crustal magnetization and dynamo timing. Mars 2020's Ingenuity has shown that we can fly on Mars. So let's go back with a magnetometer asap!
We are certainly thinking about it (LINK)!
Ingenuity - the flying helicopter on Mars
LINUS - Lunar Investigation using selenophysics
Let's survey the Moon! We have been there before, we are in the process of going there again, so let's bring a geophysical instrument suite and check out some of the mysterious regions we do not understand. Ina Mount is one of those.
There is a little more detail on this. (LINK)
Apollo stations across the Moon from the 70s!! Time to go back.
Cerberus Fossae Seismic Network
InSight has only scratched the surface! One of the intriguing findings of InSight was that most of the marsquakes originate in the large graben structure Cerberus Fossae. Knowing this, we now want to go back and set up a network of seismometers. Additional electromagnetic sounding of the area can deliver complementary insight on subsurface structure.
Go geophysics (LINK)!
Perspective view of Cerberus Fossae.