What’s next for NASA’s Mars InSight lander?

Cristina Cross
November 30, 2018

NASA's InSight spacecraft, the first robotic lander created to study the deep interior of the Red Planet, touched down safely on the surface of Mars on Monday.

On clear days, the panels will provide InSight with between 600 and 700 watts, which is roughly enough to power a standard kitchen blender.

"Mars continues to excite space enthusiasts of all ages", said Bruce Banerdt, the InSight mission's principal investigator at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. This is a self-hammering nail that will drill into the surface of Mars.

It's possible that humans may make their way up to Mars at some point. Since landing, it has taken two photos and sent them back as postcards to Earth, showing off its new home. 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. On Monday, Nov. 26, NASA TV will broadcast the landing from 11 a.m.to 12:30 p.m. PST/2 p.m.to 3:30 p.m. EST.

InSight's design is heavily based on the successful Mars Phoenix Lander, which completed its mission in 2008.

After a seven-month journey and dramatic incursion into Mars' atmosphere, NASA's InSight lander has landed safely and begun its operations.

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That was no easy feat with InSight's landing. Provided that everything goes correctly, the lander will touch down just north of the planet's equator, Elysium Planitia.

The InSight mission has three main objectives: deploy French-British seismometers to measure any potential "Marsquakes"; activate a German "mole" which will burrow 16.4 feet (five meters) down to take temperature readings from the planet: and a third experiment will use radio waves to determine how Mars is wobbling on its axis. "They were an excellent test of how CubeSats can serve as "tag-alongs" on future missions, giving engineers up-to-the-minute feedback during a landing".

Almost two dozen other Mars missions have been sent from other nations. By studying how the signals were changed by the martian atmosphere, scientists could figure out what the atmosphere was made up of and even how much of it was present, according to the statement. They'll never replace the more capable spacecraft NASA is best known for developing.

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InSight's mission voyage to Mars and ongoing communications will also be supported by the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex (CDSCC), which is managed by the CSIRO on behalf of NASA. "It's given them valuable experience on every facet of building, testing and operating a spacecraft in deep space".

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