Safely on Mars, InSight unfolds its arrays and snaps some pics

November 29, 2018
A replica of the Mars InSight lander at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, showing instruments used to study the planet

After safely landing on Mars following its nearly seven month journey, NASA has released the first pictures taken by its InSight spacecraft, which has opened it solar arrays to charge batteries.

The $993 million lander, which landed on Monday and appears to be in good shape, will soon begin unfolding its robotic arm and deploying its quake-sensors on the Martian surface.

NASA engineers are planning to begin work with its soon, but are proceeding with caution.

The arm has five mechanical fingers to help it lift out and place its two instruments on Martian soil in the coming few months.

"Slowly releasing all my pent-up tension, starting with loosening my grapple, as these before-and-after pics show," said the NASAInSight Twitter account.

"Until I'm ready to stretch my arm out, my camera angles will be the same."

InSight is equipped with two full-color cameras and has already sent back six shots since touching down.

The waist-high spacecraft will stay in place for the two-year duration of its mission.

NASA has not said anything about the condition of the other instruments on board, which include a French-made seismometer to study Marsquakes and a German self-hammering mole to measure heat's escape from the planet.

One of the first images taken by the Mars InSight lander and released by NASA after the probe landed on the surface of the Red Planet

NASA did say its have deployed, which is good news since the lander runs on solar energy.

In Paris, the French space agency CNES said everything seems fine for the moment, and that it is up to NASA to communicate with the SEIS quake-sensing instrument.

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3 / 5 (2) Nov 29, 2018
"and a German self-hammering mole"

Wouldn't they use that before deploying the hyper-sensitive seismometer?
5 / 5 (2) Nov 29, 2018
No. The seismometer should be set in place FIRST in the event that there could be one or more Marsquakes that should be responded to and recorded immediately before other instruments such as the mole is put in place. A quake that may occur and isn't recorded is lost and another one may not take place again for some time. So the timing is important.
5 / 5 (1) Nov 30, 2018
"and German self-hammering mole" - this device was indeed provided to NASA by German Space Agency, but it was designed and built by Astronika company from... Poland.
If someone was surprised to see Polish flag on the calibration screen for InSight cameras, this is why it is there. The device has even a name KRET HP3 - kret is Polish for mole. Try, google it.
I understand the need to shorten the message, make it more digestable for common readers etc. but stating that the self-hammering mole is "German" is an oversimplification.
1 / 5 (3) Nov 30, 2018
Anthropomorphic twittering, dumbed down for NASA's market.
german physicist
5 / 5 (3) Nov 30, 2018
"the French space agency CERN said ..."
Wrong: the French space agency is CNES
CERN is the world renown European High Energy Center!
not rated yet Nov 30, 2018
That thing is worth a billion dollars?
It's also probably considered a cheap device.
1 / 5 (1) Dec 01, 2018
Yes, I can clearly see the cardboard and duct tape, the odd Chinese sourced dollar store zip tie......

The armtube is obviously a cardboard shipping tube stolen from the neighbor's garbage can....

It's a conspiracy, NASA blew the money on hookers and dope!

"....and a German self-hammering mole...."

What's Merkel got to do with this???

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