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Mars new home “a big sandbox”

NASA's InSight Spacecraft erected open lens protection on Instrument Context Camera (ICC) November 30, 2018 and captured this view on…



NASA’s InSight Spacecraft erected open lens protection on Instrument Context Camera (ICC) November 30, 2018 and captured this view on Mars. Located under the InSight country deck, the ICC has a fisheye view, creating a curved horizon. Some dust clumps still appear on the camera’s lens. One of the spacecraft footbags is shown in the lower right corner. The seismometer’s tetherbox is located in the upper left corner. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

With InSight safe on the surface of Mars, the mission team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, is busy learning more about the spacecraft landing site. They knew when InSight landed on November 26, as the spacecraft had touched on the target, a lava plain called Elysium Planitia. Now they have decided that the vehicle is slightly tilted (about 4 degrees) in a superficial dust and sand-filled battlefield called “hollow”. InSight has been designed to work on a surface with an angle of up to 15 degrees.

“The science team had hoped land in a sandy area with few stones since we chose the landing site, so we could not be happier,” says Tom Hoffman, InSight project manager at JPL. “There are no landing slabs or landing lanes on Mars, so getting into an area that is basically a big sandbox without any big stones should make instrument use easier and provide a great place for our clouds to start digging.”

Rockiness and tilt gradient in landing safety and is also important in determining whether InSight can succeed in its mission after landing. Rocks and slopes can affect InSight’s ability to place its heat profile, also known as “Mole” or HP 3 – and ultra-sensitive seismometer, known as SEIS, on the Mars surface. 19659005] Turning down an inclined slope in the wrong direction could also have jeopardized the spacecraft’s ability to get enough power from its two solar arrays, while landing next to a large rock could have prevented InSight from opening one of these arrays. In fact, both arrays are fully utilized shortly after landing.

The InSight Science Team’s preliminary assessment of the photographs so far from the landing area suggests that the area in the immediate vicinity of landowners is populated by only a few stones. Higher resolution images are expected to arrive in the next few days after InSight released the dustproof plastic dust bags that hold the spacecraft’s two cameras on landing.



As seen in this two-frame frame of pictures, NASA’s spacecraft launched its robot arm on November 27, 2018, the day after it landed on Mars. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

“We look forward to high resolution images to confirm this preliminary assessment,” says JPL’s Bruce Banerdt, principal researcher of InSight. “If these few images, with resolution-reducing dust protection, are correct, it’s good for both instrument utilization and the molar penetration of our underfloor heat extrusion experiments.”

When locations on the Mars surface have been carefully selected. For the two main instruments, the team will relieve and begin initial testing of the mechanical arm that places them there.

Data downloaded from the landlord also indicates that the solar-powered InSight spacecraft during its first full day on Mars more electricity than any previous vehicle on Mars.

“It’s great to get our first” off-world record “on our very first full day on Mars,” said Hoffman. “But even better than achieving more power than any mission in front of us is what it’s about to accomplish our upcoming technical tasks. The 4,588 watts we produced under the sun 1 mean that we currently have more than enough juice to carry out these tasks and move forward with our scientific mission. “

Launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on May 5, InSight will work on the surface for a march, plus 40 March days, or suns – equivalent to almost two years of age. InSight will study Mars’s deep interior to learn how everyone celestial bodies with rocky surfaces, including the earth and the moon, formed.


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