Completing a journey of over six months from Earth to Mars NASA’s InSight lander has this week successfully touchdown on the red planet’s surface and sent back the first images of the terrain. The NASA InSight lander or Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, touchdown on the surface of Mars around 3 PM Eastern time.
The successful yet complex landing procedure of deceleration, parachute deployment and solar panel deployment took place without issue and is now ready to power up the three main instruments. Which take the form of a a seismometer to study earthquakes on Mars, meteorite impacts and dust storms, a heat flow probe to measure how much heat is flowing out of the planet’s interior and a pair of antennas to track the movement of Mars’ North Pole.
“NASA’s InSight has sent signals to Earth indicating that its solar panels are open and collecting sunlight on the Martian surface. NASA’s Mars Odyssey orbiter relayed the signals, which were received on Earth at about 5:30 p.m. PST (8:30 p.m. EST). Solar array deployment ensures the spacecraft can recharge its batteries each day. Odyssey also relayed a pair of images showing InSight’s landing site.
“The InSight team can rest a little easier tonight now that we know the spacecraft solar arrays are deployed and recharging the batteries,” said Tom Hoffman, InSight’s project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, which leads the mission. “It’s been a long day for the team. But tomorrow begins an exciting new chapter for InSight: surface operations and the beginning of the instrument deployment phase.”
InSight’s twin solar arrays are each 7 feet (2.2 meters) wide; when they’re open, the entire lander is about the size of a big 1960s convertible. Mars has weaker sunlight than Earth because it’s much farther away from the Sun. But the lander doesn’t need much to operate: The panels provide 600 to 700 watts on a clear day, enough to power a household blender and plenty to keep its instruments conducting science on the Red Planet. Even when dust covers the panels — what is likely to be a common occurrence on Mars — they should be able to provide at least 200 to 300 watts.”
For more details on the insight Lander and the results the teams are hoping to collect jump over to the official NASA website by following the link below.
Aaah…soaking up the Sun with my solar panels. 🌞 After a long flight, and thrilling #MarsLanding, it feels great to get a good stretch and recharge my batteries. (Like, literally.) It’s just what I’ll need to really start getting in tune with #Mars. https://t.co/yse3VEst3G pic.twitter.com/LpsiI0KNNz
— NASAInSight (@NASAInSight) 27 November 2018