The conditions on Mars and during the voyage are tough for the electronics in SEIS, which need to be as small, light and energy-efficient as possible to withstand the tremors and vibrations during both the launch and landing as well as cosmic radiation. Moreover, it needs to function with high precision and stability at temperatures ranging from -35 to +55°C. To monitor the seismometer's operating status and early recognition of problems, SEIS will measure, save and transmit numerus parameters to Earth. In the event of an error, SEIS will automatically switch itself off. However, the electronics were designed to be redundant (duplicated) so that the instrument can be switched from one unit to another in an emergency.
The electronics were developed together with various partners from Europe and the USA:
To find out when and where exactly a quake occurred here on Earth, data from several measuring stations are usually taken into account (there are more than 150 of them in Switzerland, and many thousands are deployed worldwide). By contrast, SEIS will be the only seismometer on the entire planet of Mars. For this reason, special care will be taken to extract as much information as possible from even the weakest signals that may indicate marsquakes, meteorite impacts or even small tornadoes. Staff at the Marsquake Service will combine methods taken from the early days of seismology, when there were only a few seismometers on Earth, with modern analytic methods for locating seismic events.
Marsquakes, meteorite impacts and the hammer blows with which the HP3 probe will drill down into the Martian soil all generate seismic waves. These waves propagate underground and are reflected at the boundaries of different strata, like echoes off a rock face. The durations, amplitudes and frequency content of the recorded waves can be used not only to create an image of the uppermost strata around the InSight landing platform, but also to determine the depth of the crust-mantle transition or core of Mars. Combined with laboratory experiments on rock and thermodynamic principles, it is possible to estimate the composition and temperature of Mars' entire mantle.