NASA entrance, descent and landing engineer Brooke Harper (right) and Gene Bonfiglio (left) celebrate NASA's successful InSight landing on Mars…
NASA entrance, descent and landing engineer Brooke Harper (right) and Gene Bonfiglio (left) celebrate NASA’s successful InSight landing on Mars with a touchdown dance at Mission Control Center in Jet Propulsion Laboratory on November 26, 2018 in Pasadena, California.
Credit: Bill Ingalls / NASA
Researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, held on November 26, 2018 the spirit when InSight spacecraft tried to make the most challenging part of its 300 million mile journey to Mars landing. At 2:53 pm EST (1
953 GMT), after a few nail bits, the room broke out in the sound of the official “beep” and the grainy photo on the red planet confirming that Lander did not have just moved safely but did not work as expected.
“The hair on my neck should start to rise a little bit higher,” said Tom Hoffman, project manager. When InSight completed each task against the landing goal, the engineers anxiety would level just a little more. “And then we finally got the confirmation of touchdown, it was absolutely amazing. The whole room got crazy. My inner four-year-old came out.”
Image of Mars captured by InSight on November 30th (Photo Credit: NASA / JPL)
The scientist says what makes the landing challenging is Mars’s relative strength gravity traits and its pointed atmosphere, which is only 1 percent as thick as the Earth’s. The former causes approaching spacecraft to accelerates at high speeds, while the latter does little to help release the energy to slow it down as it approaches the surface. Therefore, the researchers have to prepare a series of difficult maneuvers to reduce InSights burning 13,000 km / h when penetrated through the atmosphere, at a safe landing speed of less than five km / h six and a half minutes . The target angle must also be a exactly 12 degrees – something steeper and the spacecraft should burn up; something shallow, and it would bounce off the atmosphere and get lost in space. It is no wonder that the last approach is often called “seven minutes of terror”.
InSight will spend the next two years (about the length of a March year) studying the interior of the red planet using a suite of instruments. These include seismometers to record some quakes on the Red Planet, as well as heaters to determine its underground temperatures. The researchers hope that the international mission, which costs $ 850 million, will provide insight into Mars and other rocky earth planets, such as Mercury and Venus.
InSights task is to investigate Mar’s interior (Photo Credit: NASA / JPL)
Before the ambitious project begins, NASA engineers must first determine the exact location of the landlord and find the optimal location for deploying the deep sensor underground to obtain temperature readings. They also need to make sure that the robot arm works properly to complete their tasks. These include grabbing and positioning the sensors and equipment in the correct area and covering the seismometer with a protective shield to keep it damaged by the extreme environment of the red planet.
The researchers, similar to surveillance the robot arm to play a clumsy game except for the claw, say what makes the task even more challenging are the eight minutes it takes for radio signals to be received from Mars and vice versa. The time delay makes immediate tweaks to the robot arm impossible. But JPL’s director, Michael Watkins, is optimistic everything will go according to plan and says: “In the coming months and years, historical books will be written about Mars.”
Shiny objects captured by curiosity may be meteorite (Photo Credit NASA / JPL)
InSight is not the only robot currently roaming around Mars. Curiosity, the most advanced technology advanced rover ever built has been ] its surface since 2012 to try to find evidence of whether the red planet ever was – or is habitable to microbial life. Over the years, its 17 cameras have been captured and sent back several amazing pictures. The latest, as revealed by NASA on December 1, 2018, is for an object that scientists believe “may be a meteorite because it’s so shiny.”  Resources: NASA.gov, Space.com, CNN.com, Verge.co m