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(NASA) – You do not need wheels to explore Mars. After moving down in November, NASA’s spacecraft will spread its solar panels, develop a robot arm … and stay there. Unlike the spacecraft robber, InSight is a landlord designed to study an entire planet from a single place.
This sedentary science allows InSight to detect geophysical signals deep below the Mars surface, including marches and heat. Researchers will also be able to track radio signals from the stationary spacecraft, which varies due to the wobble of Mars rotation. Understanding this wobble can help solve the mystery of the planet’s core is solid.
Here are five things to know about how InSight operates its science:
1. InSight can measure quakes somewhere on the Planet
Quakes on Earth is usually detected using seismometer networks. InSight has only called SEIS (Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure), so its science team will use some creative measurements to analyze seismic waves as they occur anywhere on the planet.
SEIS will measure seismic waves from marsquakes and meteorite strikes as you move through Mars. The velocity of the waves changes depending on the material they travel through, which helps scientists take advantage of what the planet’s interior is made of.
Seismic waves come in a surprising number of flavors. Some vibrates over a plane’s surface, while others ricochet outside their center. They also move at different speeds. Seismologists can use each type as a tool to triangulate whenever and when a seismic event has occurred.
This means that InSight could have landed somewhere on Mars and without moving together the same kind of science.
2. InSights seismometer needs peace and quiet
Seismometers are accurate in nature. They must be isolated from “noise” to measure seismic waves accurately.
SEIS is sensitive enough to detect vibration less than the width of a hydrogen atom. It will be the first seismometer ever set on the Mars surface, where it will be thousands of times more accurate than seismometers located on top of the Vikings landers.
To utilize this exquisite sensitivity, engineers have given SEIS a shell: a wind and heat shield that the InSights arm places over the seismometer.
This protective dome presses down when the wind blows over it; a Mylar and chain painting shield keeps the wind from blowing in. It also gives SEIS a cozy place to hide from Mars’s intense temperature fluctuations, which can create small changes in the device’s springs and electronics.
3. InSight has a self-healing nail
Have you ever tried to hammer a nail? Then you know it’s stable is the key. InSight carries a nail which must also be kept still.
This unique instrument, called HP 3 (Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package), holds a nail attached to a long seal. A mechanism within the nail end up to 16 meters (5 meters) below ground and pulls out the seal, which is embedded with heat sensors.
At that depth it can detect the heat captured inside Mars since the planet was first formed. That heat shaped the surface with volcanoes, mountain ranges and valleys. InSight can land safely
Because InSight needs silence planet – spacecraft is free to land in the safest mode possible.
InSights team chose a place on Mars Equator called Elysium Planitia – as flat and boring a place as anyone on Mars. This makes landing a little easier, as there is less crashing, fewer rocks to land on and plenty of sunlight to drive the spacecraft. The fact that InSight does not use much power and should have plenty of sunlight on Mars Equator means that it can provide a lot of data for researchers to study.
5. InSight can measure Mars Wobble
InSight has two X-band antennas on tires that form a third instrument called RISE (Rotation and Interior Structure Experiment).  Adrian signals from RISE will be measured over months, maybe even years, to study the little “wobble” in the planet’s rotation. This wobble is a sign of whether the Mars kernel is floating or solid – a feature that could also throw light on the planet’s thin magnetic field.
Gathering detailed information about this wobble has not happened since March Pathfinder’s three month mission in 1997 (although Opportunity Rover did some measurements in 2011 while it was still and awaited in the winter). Each time a stationary spacecraft sends radio signals from Mars, it can help researchers improve their measurements.
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