- Insight mission of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has landed on the Red Planet on November 26, 2018, after almost seven months of travelling through space.
- The Insight two-year mission will study the deep interior of Mars to learn how all celestial bodies with rocky surfaces have formed, including Earth and Moon.
Facts about Insight
- The mission will have two solar panels that unfold like paper fans, the lander spans about 6 meters, according to NASA.
- Within weeks after the landing, InSight will use a robotic arm to place its two main instruments directly and permanently onto the Martian ground.
- The two main instruments are a seismometer and a heat probe.
- The seismometer will record seismic waves from ‘marsquakes‘ or meteor impacts that reveal information about the planet’s interior layers.
- The heat probe is designed to hammer itself to a depth of 3 meters or more and measure the amount of energy coming from the planet’s deep interior.
- Another experiment will use radio transmissions between Mars and Earth to assess perturbations in how Mars rotates on its axis, which are clues to the size of the planet’s core.
The landing of Insight on Mars
- The spacecraft was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Station, California on May 5
- It landed near the equator of Mars on the western side of a flat, smooth expanse of lava namely Elysium Planitia.
- The landing signal of InSight was transferred to NASA at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, via one of NASA’s two small experimental spacecraft Mars Cube One (MarCO) CubeSats.
- InSight entered the Martian atmosphere at 12,300 mph (19,800 kilometres per hour).
- It took a total of six and a half minutes to touch the surface of Mars.
- The process of deploying its two decagonal solar arrays, which started immediately after a minute of the mission’s landing and took 16 minutes to complete.
- The objectives of the two small MarCOs which relayed InSight’s telemetry was completed after their Martian flyby.
- InSight is NASA’s eighth vehicle to land on the Red Planet.
About the CubeSats
- InSight is being followed to Mars by two mini-spacecraft comprising NASA’s Mars Cube One (MarCO), the first deep-space mission for CubeSats.
- These are the first CubeSats that are sent into deep space.
- The twin MarCOs were positioned to transmit information during entry, descent and landing of InSight.