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Journal Articles Nature Geoscience Year : 2020

The atmosphere of Mars as observed by InSight

Claire Newman
Mark Lemmon
Clement Perrin
Nicholas Teanby
Justin Maki
Balthasar Kenda
Nils Mueller
Taichi Kawamura
Anni Määttänen
Stephen Lewis
John Clinton
  • Function : Author
Simon C Stähler
Savas Ceylan
  • Function : Author
Matthew Golombek
Lucie M Rolland
Rudolf Widmer-Schnidrig
  • Function : Author
Alice Jacob
Antoine Lucas
Kenneth Hurst
Sara Navarro
Tilman Spohn
Suzanne Smrekar
W. Bruce Banerdt
  • Function : Author


The atmosphere of Mars is thin, although rich in dust aerosols, and covers a dry surface. As such, Mars provides an opportunity to expand our knowledge of atmospheres beyond that attainable from the atmosphere of the Earth. The InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) lander is measuring Mars’s atmosphere with unprecedented continuity, accuracy and sampling frequency. Here we show that InSight unveils new atmospheric phenomena at Mars, especially in the higher-frequency range, and extends our understanding of Mars’s meteorology at all scales. InSight is uniquely sensitive to large-scale and regional weather and obtained detailed in situ coverage of a regional dust storm on Mars. Images have enabled high-altitude wind speeds to be measured and revealed airglow—faint emissions produced by photochemical reactions—in the middle atmosphere. InSight observations show a paradox of aeolian science on Mars: despite having the largest recorded Martian vortex activity and dust-devil tracks close to the lander, no visible dust devils have been seen. Meteorological measurements have produced a catalogue of atmospheric gravity waves, which included bores (soliton-like waves). From these measurements, we have discovered Martian infrasound and unexpected similarities between atmospheric turbulence on Earth and Mars. We suggest that the observations of Mars’s atmosphere by InSight will be key for prediction capabilities and future exploration.


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Dates and versions

hal-02641370 , version 1 (28-05-2020)
hal-02641370 , version 2 (16-08-2020)



Don Banfield, Aymeric Spiga, Claire Newman, François Forget, Mark Lemmon, et al.. The atmosphere of Mars as observed by InSight. Nature Geoscience, 2020, 13 (3), pp.190-198. ⟨10.1038/s41561-020-0534-0⟩. ⟨hal-02641370v2⟩
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