Thermal Conductivity of the Martian Soil at the InSight Landing Site From HP3 Active Heating Experiments


The heat flow and physical properties package (HP3) of the InSight Mars mission is an instrument package designed to determine the martian planetary heat flow. To this end, the package was designed to emplace sensors into the martian subsurface and measure the thermal conductivity as well as the geothermal gradient in the 0–5 m depth range. After emplacing the probe to a tip depth of 0.37 m, a first reliable measurement of the average soil thermal conductivity in the 0.03–0.37 m depth range was performed. Using the HP3 mole as a modified line heat source, we determined a soil thermal conductivity of 0.039 ± 0.002 W m−1 K−1, consistent with the results of orbital and in-situ thermal inertia estimates. This low thermal conductivity implies that 85%–95% of all particles are smaller than 104–173 μm and suggests that soil cementation is minimal, contrary to the considerable degree of cementation suggested by image data. Rather, cementing agents like salts could be distributed in the form of grain coatings instead. Soil densities compatible with the measurements are 1211 +149/-113 kg m^3, indicating soil porosities of 63 +4/-9 %.


© 2021. The Authors. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.


InSight Mars Mission, Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package, Thermal Conductivity, Martian Soil


Grott, M., Spohn, T., Knollenberg, J., Krause, C., Hudson, T. L., Piqueux, S., et al. (2021). Thermal conductivity of the martian soil at the Insight landing site from HP3 active heating experiments. Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, 126, e2021JE006861.