A JPL scientist’s pitch for a new Mars lander that would perform unprecedented study of the Red Planet’s interior is one of three ideas in the running for future NASA funding through the agency’s competitive Discovery Program.
The proposed Geophysical Monitoring Station (GEMS) would pack a scientific payload that includes a thermal probe, seismometer and orbital tracking system. All are tools for discovering the inner composition of Mars to help explain the largely unknown story of that planet’s beginnings — and to some degree, Earth’s — explained JPL’s Bruce Banerdt, who would lead the project.
“GEMS would provide unique and critical information about the same [types of] processes that likely operated during the first few hundred million years on the Earth … a period for which virtually all information has been lost due to subsequent vigorous activity,” wrote Banerdt in an email interview last weekend. “On Mars, this information appears to have been preserved due to its lower level of activity for the past few billion years, allowing us a virtual window into our own past.”