Future Mars geophysical observatories for understanding its internal structure, rotation, and evolution

Veronique Dehant, Bruce Banerdt, Philippe Lognonné, Matthias Grott, Sami Asmar, Jens Biele, Doris Breuer, François Forget, Ralf Jaumann, Catherine Johnson, Martin Knapmeyer, Benoit Langlais, Mathieu Le Feuvre, David Mimoun, Antoine Mocquet, Peter Read, Attilio Rivoldini, Oliver Romberg, Gerald Schubert, Sue SmrekarTilman Spohn, Paolo Tortora, Stephan Ulamec, Susanne Vennerstrøm

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Our fundamental understanding of the interior of the Earth comes from seismology, geodesy, geochemistry, geomagnetism, geothermal studies, and petrology. For the Earth, measurements in those disciplines of geophysics have revealed the basic internal layering of the Earth, its dynamical regime, its thermal structure, its gross compositional stratification, as well as significant lateral variations in these quantities. Planetary interiors not only record evidence of conditions of planetary accretion and differentiation, they exert significant control on surface environments.We present recent advances in possible in-situ investigations of the interior of Mars, experiments and strategies that can provide unique and critical information about the fundamental processes of terrestrial planet formation and evolution. Such investigations applied on Mars have been ranked as a high priority in virtually every set of European, US and international high-level planetary science recommendations for the past 30 years. New seismological methods and approaches based on the cross-correlation of seismic noise by two seismic stations/landers on the surface of Mars and on joint seismic/orbiter detection of meteorite impacts, as well as the improvement of the performance of Very Broad-Band (VBB) seismometers have made it possible to secure a rich scientific return with only two simultaneously recording stations. In parallel, use of interferometric methods based on two Earth–Mars radio links simultaneously from landers tracked from Earth has increased the precision of radio science experiments by one order of magnitude. Magnetometer and heat flow measurements will complement seismic and geodetic data in order to obtain the best information on the interior of Mars.In addition to studying the present structure and dynamics of Mars, these measurements will provide important constraints for the astrobiology of Mars by helping to understand why Mars failed to sustain a magnetic field, by helping to understand the planet’s climate evolution, and by providing a limit for the energy available to the chemoautotrophic biosphere through a measurement of the surface heat flow. The landers of the mission will also provide meteorological stations to monitor the climate and obtain new measurements in the atmospheric boundary layer.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPlanetary and Space Science
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)123-145
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Interior structure
  • Rotation
  • Magnetic field
  • Heat flow
  • Seismology
  • Mars
  • Atmosphere
  • Habitability

Cite this

Dehant, V., Banerdt, B., Lognonné, P., Grott, M., Asmar, S., Biele, J., Breuer, D., Forget, F., Jaumann, R., Johnson, C., Knapmeyer, M., Langlais, B., Le Feuvre, M., Mimoun, D., Mocquet, A., Read, P., Rivoldini, A., Romberg, O., Schubert, G., ... Vennerstrøm, S. (2012). Future Mars geophysical observatories for understanding its internal structure, rotation, and evolution. Planetary and Space Science, 68(1), 123-145. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pss.2011.10.016