Wednesday , September 28 2022

NASA's InSight lander has touched down on Mars


(CNN) – After seven months of travel through space, the NASA InSight mission has landed on Mars. A few minutes after landing, InSight sent the official "beep" to NASA to signal that it was alive and well, including a photo of the Martian surface where it landed.

Mission Control at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory exploded in celebratory applause and cheers after the touchdown was confirmed. The landing was watched around the world and even broadcast live on the Nasdaq Stock Market tower in New York City's Times Square.

"Today, we successfully landed on Mars for the eighth time in human history," NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said. "InSight will study the interior of Mars and will teach us valuable science as well as the moon and later to Mars. This accomplishment represents the ingenuity of America and our international partners, and it is a dedication to a testament and perseverance of our team.The best of NASA is still to come, and it is coming soon. "

InSight, or Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, is going to explore a part of Mars that we know the less about: its deep interior. It launches May 5. In the event that the building blocks down the planet's surface recorded its history

To reach Mars, InSight cruised 301,223,981 miles at a top speed of 6,200 miles per hour in space, followed by two cube satellites. The suitcase-size spacecraft, called MarCO, is the first cube satellite to fly in deep space. Marco shared data about InSight

"We've studied Mars from orbit and from the surface since 1965, learning about its weather, environment, geology and surface chemistry," said Lori Glaze, NASA's Science Mission Directorate in the Planetary Science Division of acting director. "Now we finally discovered inside Mars and deepen our understanding of our terrestrial neighbor as NASA prepared human explorers deeper in the solar system."

The landing

InSight robotically guided itself The landing itself is a tricky maneuver. NASA engineers do not call it "seven minutes of terror" for nothing In less time than it takes hard-boil an egg, InSight slowed from 12,300 mph to 5 mph before it is gently released, according to NASA.

"While most of the country was enjoying Thanksgiving with their family and friends, the InSight team was busy making the final preparations for Monday's landing," said Tom Hoffman of JPL, InSight's project manager. "Landing on Mars is difficult to personal sacrifices, such as missing the traditional Thanksgiving, but making inSight successful is well worth the extraordinary effort."

Only 40% of missions sent to the Red Planet Part of this is due to the thin Martian atmosphere, which is only 1% of Earth's

Like the Phoenix spacecraft, InSight had a parachute and retro rockets to slow its descent through the atmosphere, and three legs suspended from the lander.

But the engineers prepared the spacecraft to land during a dust storm if need be

About 20 minutes before landing, InSight separated from the cruise stage that helped bring the atmosphere into the atmosphere.

At 2:47 p.m. ET, the entry, descent and landing phase began, and InSight came blazing into the atmosphere at 12,300 mph. Peak heating of the protective heat shield reached 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit two minutes later. This is when the intense heat caused a temporary drop in the radio signal from the craft.

Then, the parachute deployed, the craft separated from the heat shield, deployed its three legs and activated radar to sense how far it is from the ground. After getting that radar signal, it separated from the remaining shell and parachute, firing its descent engines.

In ballet-like fashion, InSight executed a gravity turn to make sure It slowed until it reached a constant 5 mph. Then, it touched down at 2:54 p.m. ET

Just before 3 p.m. ET, InSight sent a signal to let scientists on Earth know that it's alive and well

"We hit the Martian atmosphere at 12,300 mph, and the whole sequence to touching down on the surface took only 6½ minutes," said Hoffman. "During that short span of time, InSight had to autocomplete perform dozens of operations and do them flawlessly – and by all indications, that is exactly what our spacecraft did."

Bruce Banerdt of JPL, InSight's Principal Investigator, said "It's taken more than a decade to bring in space from a concept to a spacecraft approaching Mars – and even longer since I was first inspired to try this kind of mission. But even after landing , we need to be patient for the science to begin. "

What happens next

InSight's two-year science mission will not begin right It will take two to three months for the robotic arm Meanwhile, mission scientists will photograph what is seen from the lander's perspective and monitor the environment. Science data is not expected until March

Later Monday, mission scientists should be able to confirm that the spacecraft's solar arrays have unfurled.

"We are solar-powered, so getting the arrays out and operating is a big deal," Hoffman said. "With the arrays providing the energy, we need to start the cool science operations. Wwe is well on our way to thoroughly investigate what's inside for the very first time."

InSight landed at Elysium Planitia, called "the largest parking lot on Mars" by astronomers. Because it will not be roving over the surface, the landing site was an important determination. This spot is open, flat, safe and boring, which is the scientists want for a stationary two-year mission.

InSight will unfurl its solar panels and robotic arm It's along the Martian equator, bright and warm enough to power the lander's solar array year-round.

The suite of geophysical instruments onSight sounds like a doctor's bag, giving Mars its first "checkup" since it formed. Together, those instruments will take measurements of Mars' vital signs, like its pulse, temperature and reflexes – which translate to internal activity like seismology and the planet's wobble as the sun and its moons tug on Mars.

These instruments include the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structures to investigate what causes the surface of the burrow beneath the seismic waves on the heat flow and the physical properties package to determine the radius of the planet and rotation and interior structure experiment the planet's core

"Landing was thrilling, but I'm looking forward to the drilling," Banerdt said. "When the first images come down, our engineering and science teams will hit the ground running, starting to plan where to deploy our science instruments. Within two or three months, the arm is the mission of the main science instruments, the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS) and Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3) instruments. "

Meanwhile, the mission for Marco has ended. But it proves that cube satellites can survive

"Every Mars landing is daunting, but now with InSight Safeely on the surface, we get a unique kind of science on Mars," JPL director Michael Watkins said. "The experimental Marco CubeSats have also opened a new planet to small planetary spacecraft. The success of these two unique missions is a tribute to the millions of talented engineers and scientists who put their genius and labor in making this a great day."

"NASA's InSight Lander has touched down on Mars"

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