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Jeroen Tromp on scientific team for NASA’s next mission to Mars


Jeroen TrompInterior of Mars - NASA simulation

Princeton Geophysics Professor Jeroen Tromp is a member of the scientific team for NASA’s proposed InSight mission to Mars set to launch in 2016.  InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy, and Heat Transport) will place a lander on Mars with an array of instruments including 1) a seismometer, 2)  a heat probe to measure thermal properties in a hole hammered five meters into the Martian surface, 3) equipment to track Mars’ “wobble” by measuring the Doppler shift and ranging of radio communications between the lander and Earth, and 4) cameras to guide the deployment of the instruments and provide views of the surrounding terrain.

The instruments are designed to operate for two (Earth) years; the data collected will enable scientists to understand much about the internal structure and history of Mars, as well as give clues to the processes that have shaped not only Mars but all of the terrestrial planets.  Critical questions include whether Mars has a liquid core, and why Mars does not have tectonic plates like Earth.

Tromp received his Ph.D. from Princeton in 1992 and served on the faculty of Harvard University and the California Institute of Technology.  He joined the Princeton faculty in 2008 as the Blair Professor of Geology and Professor of Applied & Computational Mathematics, and is lead advisor for the Theoretical & Computational Seismology Research Group.  His research interests include surface waves, free oscillations, body waves, seismic tomography, numerical simulations of 3-D wave propagation, and seismic hazard assessment.


Key Dates
Launch: March 8 - March 27, 2016
Landing: September 20, 2016
Surface operations: 720 (Earth) days / 700 sols (Mars days)
First science return: October 2016
Instruments aboard:   SEIS seismometer
HP3 heat probe
RISE “wobble” analytical equipment
Cameras similar to the Navcam and Hazcam cameras currently operating on the Mars Exploration Rover Curiosity
Data volume over 1 Martian year: More than 29 Gb (processed seismic data posted to the Web in 2 weeks; remaining science data less than 3 months, no proprietary period)
End of Mission: September 18, 2018


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Photo Credit: Interior of Mars simulation courtesy of NASA.