Marsquake sensor lands safely on Red Planet

Gwen Vasquez
November 30, 2018

"Today, we successfully landed on Mars for the eighth time in human history", NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said. While the geology and chemistry of the region are interesting, the site was chosen more for the ease of landing and large amounts of sunlight than its surface features. The photo was captured after solar panels fruitfully convoluted from its sides so that its batteries can be charged and was transmitted through the Mars Odyssey orbiter that hovers around the planet and transmits the messages back to the Earth.

The delicate part of the operation, the rocket firing, also seemed to go smoothly.

The two suitcase-size spacecraft that followed InSight, MarCO, are the first cube satellites to fly into deep space.

To confirm landing NASA tweeted the first image from the InSight on-board camera.

"It is wonderful news that the InSight spacecraft has landed safely on Mars". The spacecraft is created to drill into Mars' interior.

An artist's conception of the InSight lander on the surface of Mars with its seismometer (left) and heat probe (right) deployed.

InSight's primary instrument is a French-built seismometer, created to record the slightest vibrations from "marsquakes" and meteor impacts around the planet. The experiment which will map the interior structure of Mars and measure its rotation was developed in the United States. It will work even once the probe has been retired.

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Scientists expect to see a dozen to 100 marsquakes during the mission, producing data to help them deduce the depth, density and composition of the planet's core, the rocky mantle surrounding it, and the outermost layer, the crust.

In the weeks ahead, Insight's robotic arm, which is over 5 feet 9 inches (1.8 meters) long will unpack some scientific instruments and begin its epic tasks.

"CubeSats have incredible potential to carry cameras and science instruments out to deep space".

Meanwhile, InSight will continue to send reports to earth from its weather sensors and magnetometer.

As it approaches the surface the heat shield will separate and InSight will have to perform a manoeuvre to escape it - or risk it crashing into the lander once it reaches the surface. They are created to cut out the instant the probe lands because if they don't it will tip over. Unlike NASA's famous rovers Curiosity and Opportunity, InSight will remain in the exact place it lands. In the next few hours the device needs to open up solar panels. These are capable of generating around 700 watts of power.

The mission's primary instrument suite will come online over the next three months.

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