Thermal Conductivity of the Martian Soil at the InSight Landing site from HP3 Active Heating Experiments

1M.Grott et al. (>10)
Journal of Geophysical Research, Planets (in Press) Link to Article [https://doi.org/10.1029/2021JE006861]
1German Aerospace Center (DLR), Institute of Planetary Research, Berlin, Germany
Published by arrangment with John Wiley & Sons

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 to 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 to 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 urn:x-wiley:21699097:media:jgre21692:jgre21692-math-0001 kg m−3, indicating soil porosities of urn:x-wiley:21699097:media:jgre21692:jgre21692-math-0002 %.

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