InSight mission to Mars

Blindtest for event location, identification, classification and more...

Welcome to the blindtest webpage of InSight Mars mission. This is an open scientific challenge for all interested parties, focusing on developing/testing approaches for locating quakes and impacts, or inverting for the interior structure of Mars.

Registration for the test is now open till September 30th, 2017. Test ends on 1st of February, 2018. Check the latest news for updates about the test.

About the blind test :: Scope

Mars Structural Services (MSS) and Marsquake Service (MQS) are the two ground service support segments within the InSight mission. While MQS manages the event catalog (identifying, locating and distributing) events, MSS is more focused on the interior structure of Mars. As the InSight science team, we have designed this blind test to seek alternative ideas in both areas, and to test our current approaches. For this purpose, we have computed synthetic waveforms for a catalog that includes both tectonic events and impacts simulated for one Earth year, with superimposed realistic seismic noise.

The test is called "blind" because only two of the team members know about the background model and event catalog. If you are joining the test for locating events, we ask our participants to provide an event catalogue with the following information (bold items are required):

  • Event location (distance and backazimuth). In our simulations, we assume that the seismic station is located at 4.5°N and 136.0°E, in Elysium Planitia. See downloads section for station meta data.
  • Description of the method(s) used
  • Event depth and origin time (optional)
  • Event magnitude (any), seismic moment, and moment tensor solution (optional)
  • Phase picks (optional)
  • Uncertainties of these parameters (optional)
  • Event type (tectonic/impact; optional)
  • If you have any other ideas such as developing structural inversion methods, please feel free to register and download the dataset. At the end of the test, all event locations results will be combined, compared, and published with all participants as co-authors.

    Event catalog and synthetic data


  • One event catalog has been chosen amongst a randomly generated suite. Each candidate catalog take a b-value of 1.0 as reference, and a random a-value corresponding to ~200 marsquakes. Some number of impacts are then superimposed on to the selected quake catalog. The exact number of quakes and impacts are not known to any of the test participants.
  • Maximum magnitude for tectonic events is fixed about Mw=5.0, while no events with Mw<2.5 are included. Event depths follow a skewed Gaussian distribution, with a peak at ~20-30 km, which is also randomly assigned. The allowed depth range is 2-100 km. All events are randomly distributed in space and time, and they may temporally overlap.
  • Waveforms

  • The 1-D structural model used for generating the synthetic Marsquake seismograms is selected from a suite of 14 a priori structural models (Panning et al, 2016; Khan et al, 2016).
  • The synthetic waveforms for the tectonic sources are computed employing AxiSEM (Nissen-Meyer et al., 2014) and Instaseis (van Driel et al., 2015) for the short periods (1s for a duration of 30 mins, and 5s for a duration of 6 hours) as well as for the longer periods (20s, for a duration of 24 hours). These waveforms are then merged using FIR filters.
  • The seismic velocity channels are (MH[UVW]) are sampled at 2 Hz. Units in miniSEED files for these channels are counts. Pressure channel (MDO) is in Pascals, also sampled at 2 Hz. Wind speed (VWS; m/s), wind direction (VWD; degrees), and temperature (VKI; degrees Kelvin) are at 0.1 Hz. Final set of our data is magnetometer channels (VF1, VF2, VF3) are sampled at 0.2 Hz, in units of Tesla.
  • Seismic noise reflecting the current estimate we will encounter at Elysium Planitia (Murdoch et al., 2016) is added to seismograms to create a continuous time series. This signal includes noise generated by the sensor and systems themselves, as well as through the environment (such as fluctuating pressure and magnetic field) and nearby lander activities (such as wind-induced solar panel vibrations). In order to simulate more realistic operational conditions, the noise model also includes glitches.
  • Register for the test

    Registration for the test is closed. Please contact us for any questions.

    Please send us an email whether you wish to participate in the test or just experiment with the synthetics. We will send you detailed instructions on downloading the data via our FDSN web services (authorisation required).

    We require your info to be able to keep you updated about the test status. We also want to keep track of various applications that our waveforms are used in, and have an idea of what participants wish to do. The information you provide will be secure and not be released outside the InSight team without your consent.

    Resources and downloads

    Candidate Martian models
  • AxiSEM format: tar.gz | zip
  • Named discontinuities (.nd) format: tar.gz | zip
  • Deck format: tar.gz | zip
  • Available in miniSEED format. Please follow the instructions you receive after the registration.
  • Station metadata(registration required)
  • Download as station XML or ascii file
  • Updates and news

    [21.09.2017] Candidate models are available...

    The candidate structural models are now available for download in AxiSEM, nd, and deck formats. See the downloads section.

    [21.08.2017] Synthetic waveforms are ready! - Test starts officially...

    Synthetic waveforms computation is completed. Please follow the instructions after the registration to downlaod the data. Do not hesitate to let us know if you encounter any problems.

    As a reminder: Registration is open till 30 September 2017. The anticipated end date for the test is 1 February 2018.

    [28.04.2017] InSight blind test is about to take off!Don't forget to register.

    We are almost done with computing synthetic waveforms. Feel free to contact us if you would like to participate in the tests, or just experiment the dataset.

    Registration is open till 30 September 2017. The anticipated end date for the test is 1 February 2018.

    Contacts and citation

    If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us:
    General questions can be addressed to John Clinton or Domenico Giardini. Technical questions on the preparation of the dataset can be addressed to Martin van Driel.

    All Mars images are downloaded from NASA JPL, while other figures are prepared by us. Please cite our study below if you use any resources presented in this web page, specifically our synthetic data.

    Please refer to our invitation paper for more information on the blind test:

  • Clinton et al. (2017). Preparing for InSight: an invitation to participate in a blind test for Martian seismicity, Seism. Res. Letters, doi: 10.1785/0220170094
  • This work was jointly supported by SNF-ANR project 157133 "Seismology on Mars", SEFRI project "MarsQuake Service-Preparatory Phase", and two grants from the Swiss National Supercomputing Centre (CSCS) under project IDs sm06 and s682.

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