NASA's Martian quake sensor InSight lands at slight angle

December 1, 2018
The $993 million InSight lander arrived at its target, a lava plain named Elysium Planitia, for a two-year mission aimed at better understanding how Earth's neighboring planet formed

NASA's unmanned Martian quake sensor, InSight, has landed at a slight angle on the Red Planet, and experts are hopeful the spacecraft will work as planned, the US space agency said Friday.

The $993 million lander arrived Monday at its target, a lava plain named Elysium Planitia, for a two-year mission aimed at better understanding how Earth's neighboring planet formed.

"The vehicle sits slightly tilted (about 4 degrees) in a shallow dust- and sand-filled known as a 'hollow,'" NASA said in a statement.

InSight was engineered to operate on a surface with an inclination up to 15 degrees.

Therefore, experts are hopeful that its two main instruments—a quake sensor and self-hammering mole to measure heat below the surface—will work as planned.

"We couldn't be happier," said InSight project manager Tom Hoffman of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

"There are no landing pads or runways on Mars, so coming down in an area that is basically a large sandbox without any large rocks should make deployment easier and provide a great place for our mole to start burrowing."

The first pictures from the show just a few rocks in the vicinity, more good news since touching down right near a rocky area would have made deployment of the solar arrays and instruments tricky.

Better images are expected in the coming days once InSight sheds the dust covers on its two cameras.

"We are looking forward to higher-definition pictures to confirm this preliminary assessment," said Bruce Banerdt, principal investigator of InSight at NASA.

"If these few images—with resolution-reducing dust covers on—are accurate, it bodes well for both instrument deployment and the mole penetration of our subsurface heat-flow experiment."

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

Related Stories

InSight is catching rays on Mars

November 27, 2018

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 ...

'Flawless': NASA craft lands on Mars after perilous journey

November 26, 2018

A NASA spacecraft designed to drill down into Mars' interior landed on the planet Monday after a perilous, supersonic plunge through its red skies, setting off jubilation among scientists who had waited in white-knuckle suspense ...

Five things to know about InSight's Mars landing

November 1, 2018

Every Mars landing is a knuckle-whitening feat of engineering. But each attempt has its own quirks based on where a spacecraft is going and what kind of science the mission intends to gather.

Recommended for you

Calibrating cosmic mile markers

December 11, 2018

New work from the Carnegie Supernova Project provides the best-yet calibrations for using type Ia supernovae to measure cosmic distances, which has implications for our understanding of how fast the universe is expanding ...

Team finds evidence for carbon-rich surface on Ceres

December 10, 2018

A team led by Southwest Research Institute has concluded that the surface of dwarf planet Ceres is rich in organic matter. Data from NASA's Dawn spacecraft indicate that Ceres's surface may contain several times the concentration ...

5 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Surveillance_Egg_Unit
2.3 / 5 (3) Dec 01, 2018
What if another global sandstorm arises like the last one? How will the lenses be protected from abrasion?
Osiris1
not rated yet Dec 02, 2018
It has telescoping legs, so its design engineers have that problem handled already or they do NOT belong in space.
TheGhostofOtto1923
2 / 5 (1) Dec 02, 2018
It has telescoping legs
No it doesnt have telescoping legs. It's designed to operate at 15 degree tilt max.
so its design engineers have that problem handled already or they do NOT belong in space
People like you who make shit up and fail to research their inane notions before posting them do NOT belong on physorg.
guptm
4 / 5 (2) Dec 03, 2018
According to NASA, the wind in the largest dust storms likely could not tip or rip apart major mechanical equipment. The winds in the strongest Martian storms top out at about 60 miles per hour, less than half the speed of some hurricane-force winds on Earth.

The atmosphere on Mars is about 1% as dense as Earth's atmosphere. That means to fly a kite on Mars, the wind would need to blow much faster than on Earth to get the kite in the air.

Mars g = 3.7 m/s2, which means you can stand in the storm, you won't be blown away. Wind force is much less. 358 kg InSight lander will definitely stay.
torbjorn_b_g_larsson
3.4 / 5 (5) Dec 04, 2018
What if another global sandstorm arises like the last one? How will the lenses be protected from abrasion?


The cameras is only vital initially - first 3 months or so - to model the surroundings in order to place the drill and seismometer best, so low risk and no need for extremely high resolution or possibly cameras at all since blind placement may work.

The problem with sandstorms won't affect the instruments as such, but will make the solar power go down and in worst case too low to make uninterrupted science, science at all or even heat the lander enough to keep it working.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.