Does Mars Have Marsquakes? Colorado-Built InSight Spacecraft Wants To Know

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Photo: Illustration InSight Lander (NASA)
An artist's rendering of what the InSight lander might look like on Mars.

The volcanoes on Mars are long dead, but is there still a molten core lurking deep under the Red Planet’s surface? Astronomer Doug Duncan, director emeritus of the Fiske Planetarium in Boulder, tells Colorado Matters that the InSight lander, built in Colorado and scheduled to launch Saturday, will use a quake detector and a burrowing thermometer to find out.

Duncan says the broader mission is to learn more about the lifecycle of Mars, and, by extension, Earth. Mars is a lot like Earth but smaller. It was formed at the same time, in the same way. It once had an atmosphere, and flowing water. And scientists believe it’s basically dead. Why did that happen, and could it happen to Earth?