NASA's InSight Lander is not camera-shy. The spacecraft
used a camera on his robot arm to take his first selfie – a mosaic consisting of
11 pictures. This is the same image process used by NASA's Curiosity Rover
mission, how many overlapping pictures are taken and later sewn
together. Visible in selfie is the farmer's solar panel and the whole
tires, including its scientific instruments.
Mission Team members have also received their first complete
look at InSights 'work area' – the approx. 14-to-7-foot (4-by-2 meter)
crescent of terrain just in front of the spacecraft. This picture is also one
mosaic consisting of 52 individual images.
In the coming weeks, scientists and engineers will go
through the careful process of determining where in this area of work
spacecraft instruments should be placed. They will then command InSights robot
arm to gently set the seismometer (called the seismic experiment for
Interior Structure or SEIS)
and heat flow probe (known as heat flow and physical properties package, or
in the selected places. Both work best on level, and engineers will
Avoid putting them on stones that are larger than approx. one half inch (1.3 cm).
"The presence of cliffs, hills and holes means
It will be extremely safe for our instruments, "said InSights Principal
Examines Bruce Banerdt from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena,
California. "It may seem like a fairly common piece of soil, if it were not
on Mars, but we are happy to see it. "
The InSights landing team deliberately chose a landing region
in Elysium Planitia, which is relatively free of stone. Nevertheless, the landing place
proved even better than they hoped. The spacecraft is in what looks like
be an almost stone-free "cave" – a depression created by a meteor
Impact later filled with sand. It should make it easier for one of
InSights instruments, heat flow probe, will drill down to its goal of 16 feet
(5 meters) below the surface.
JPL manages InSight to NASA
Directorate for Science. InSight is part of NASA's Discovery Program,
controlled by the agency's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
Lockheed Martin Space in Denver built the InSight spacecraft, including its
cruise phase and landing, and supports spacecraft operations for the mission.
A number of European partners,
including France's Center National d'Études Spatiales (CNES) and Germans
Aerospace Center (DLR), supports the InSight mission. CNES and Institute
The Physique du Globe de Paris (IPGP) delivered the seismic experiment to
Interior structure (SEIS) instrument with significant contributions from
Max Planck Institute of Solar System Research (MPS) in Germany, Switzerland
Institute of Technology (ETH) in Switzerland, Imperial College London and
Oxford University in the United Kingdom and JPL. DLR delivered the heat flow
and physical properties package (HP3) Instruments with significant
contribution from the Space Research Center (CBK) of the Polish Academy of
Science and Astronics in Poland. Spain's Centro de Astrobiología (CAB)
delivered wind sensors.
News Media Contact
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.