InSight successfully deploys seismometer on Mars

InSight successfully deploys seismometer on Mars

The Mars Express was recently joined by American space agency Nasa's new InSight probe, which aims to shine new light on how the Red Planet was formed and its deep structure, by mapping its core, crust and mantle.

The images-which were taken earlier this year using the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) on ESA's Mars Express orbiter-are a fitting way to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the spacecraft's insertion into the Red Planet's orbit, coming up on Christmas Day.

In this file colour-calibrated photo obtained from NASA, InSight's robotic-arm mounted Instrument Deployment Camera shows the instruments on the spacecraft's deck, with the Martian surface of Elysium Planitia in the background on December 4, 2018.

The InSight lander has been on the surface of Mars since November 26 and has been preparing to deploy two of its main instruments. "The seismometer is the highest-priority instrument on InSight: We need it in order to complete about three-quarters of our science objectives". "It looks as if all is calm and all is bright for InSight, heading into the end of the year".

NASA has announced that InSight has successfully placed that first instrument on the Martian soil. One major concern was that rocks or uneven ground would hamper instrument placement, requiring extensive planning before the sensors could be placed on the planet.

"InSight's timetable of activities on Mars has gone better than we hoped", said InSight Project Manager Tom Hoffman, who is based at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

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Because this isn't NASA's first rodeo, a team of scientists has been practising the deployment of instruments with an exact replica of the lander (known as ForeSight) on a fake Mars set back here on Earth.

"Seismometer deployment is as important as landing InSight on Mars", Bruce Banerdt, the principal investigator of the InSight mission, said in a statement. By analyzing how seismic waves move through the orb, scientists can deduce depth and composition of its layers. It's the first run through a robotic arm has brought down a test onto the Martian surface.

New data will start to arrive on Earth once the seismometer is level.

"I have a bottle ready for the occasion", Banerdt said. The mission also involved a lander known as Beagle 2.

A number of European partners, including CNES and the German Aerospace Center (DLR), support the InSight mission. The heat probe will be hammered into the surface by the lander in late January. Spain's Centro de Astrobiología supplied the wind sensors.

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