NASA's InSight Mission Places Its First Instrument On Mars

Posted: Dec 23 2018, 4:45pm CST | by , Updated: Dec 23 2018, 4:48pm CST, in News | Latest Science News

 
NASA's InSight Lander Places its First Instrument on Mars
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

This was the first time a spacecraft robotically placed an instrument on the surface of another planet.

InSight has reached a major milestone on December 19 as the new NASA mission successfully places its first instrument onto the surface of Mars. Latest images show that InSight’s seismometer has been deployed on the ground and is set to perform a specific sequence of activities.

NASA's InSight spacecraft landed on the surface of Mars on Nov. 26. It is designed to study the deep interior of Mars, the first mission ever to do so. InSight carries a six-sensor seismometer called the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS) to record seismic waves as they travel through the planet. The other instrument Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3) will measure the planet’s internal heat. If all goes well, the mission should provide best look yet at deep below the surface of Mars.

"InSight's timetable of activities on Mars has gone better than we hoped," said InSight Project Manager Tom Hoffman at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "Getting the seismometer safely on the ground is an awesome Christmas present."

To deploy the seismometer, the lander used its robotic arm. The extended robotic arm picked up science instrument from the lander's deck, gently placed it in front of the lander at Elysium Planitia, the flat lava plain where InSight touched down last month. This also makes SEIS the first instrument ever to be robotically placed on the surface of another planet.

"Seismometer deployment is as important as landing InSight on Mars," said InSight Principal Investigator Bruce Banerdt. "The seismometer is the highest-priority instrument on InSight: We need it in order to complete about three-quarters of our science objectives."

InSight's SEIS instrument will study marsquakes and measure their size, frequency and speed to learn about Red Planet’s subsurface. But it will take two to three months before the instrument is fully deployed and begins sending back data to Earth.

"Having the seismometer on the ground is like holding a phone up to your ear," said Philippe Lognonné, principal investigator of SEIS from Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (IPGP) and Paris Diderot University. "We're thrilled that we're now in the best position to listen to all the seismic waves from below Mars' surface and from its deep interior."

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.

 

 

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