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NASA InSight Mars Lander

Grey Havoc

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NASA spacecraft days away from risky landing (AP, via The Japan News)
https://www.apnews.com/80b0bb92a4a147a0bb0b99626c96044d

https://mars.nasa.gov/insight/mission/overview/
https://mars.nasa.gov/insight/timeline/overview/
https://mars.nasa.gov/insight/spacecraft/about-the-lander/


https://mars.nasa.gov/insight/spacecraft/instruments/summary/
 

Grey Havoc

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https://player.vimeo.com/video/300179632?app_id=122963

On a tangent: https://ideas.lego.com/projects/550d5733-3f89-4640-bc5b-a6a59afa469e
 

Grey Havoc

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Via Slashdot: https://www.wired.com/story/nasa-mars-insight-entry-descent-landing/
 

Grey Havoc

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https://www.space.com/42508-insight-mars-lander-science-goals.html
 

Grey Havoc

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http://www.marsdaily.com/reports/ESA_lends_a_hand_at_Mars_999.html
 

Grey Havoc

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https://www.space.com/42529-insight-mars-landing-nasa-tension-high.html
 

FighterJock

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I have fingers and toes crossed in the hope that InSight lands on mars this evening (UK time).
 

Grey Havoc

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https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-46333459
 

FighterJock

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Grey Havoc said:
https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-46333459
Thanks for the link Grey Havoc, will watch the landing live on NASA TV tonight (that is if I can remember the time).
 

Grey Havoc

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https://www.space.com/42509-insight-mars-landing-site-elysium-planitia.html
 

Mark Nankivil

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First image of the surface has been received and the cubesats seemed to have worked as planned - well done JPL....

Mark
 

FighterJock

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What happens to the cubesats now? Will they carry on being the main communication relay between Earth and InSight?
 

TomcatViP

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Here is the first picture. Notice: no zoom.




Let's hope that this is not the case where NASA stepped... too close of our first martian encounter.
 

Flyaway

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FighterJock said:
What happens to the cubesats now? Will they carry on being the main communication relay between Earth and InSight?
No they’ve done their main job and will now fly on taking pictures of Mars for later relay to Earth.

https://twitter.com/elakdawalla/status/1067153175877042176

Here's a quick-and-dirty attempt at processing out distortion in the first image from InSight. It does look like the lander is a bit tilted, which is not ideal, but the workspace looks flat as a pancake and nearly rock-free. I wonder what the thing right in front is though.
Here’s another attempt at cleaning up the initial image.

https://twitter.com/tsplanets/status/1067154165330255872
 

Flyaway

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InSight Is Catching Rays on Mars

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 p.m. PST (8:30 p.m. EST). Solar array deployment ensures the spacecraft can recharge its batteries each day. Odyssey also relayed a pair of images showing InSight's landing site.

"The InSight team can rest a little easier tonight now that we know the spacecraft solar arrays are deployed and recharging the batteries," said Tom Hoffman, InSight's project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, which leads the mission. "It's been a long day for the team. But tomorrow begins an exciting new chapter for InSight: surface operations and the beginning of the instrument deployment phase."

InSight's twin solar arrays are each 7 feet (2.2 meters) wide; when they're open, the entire lander is about the size of a big 1960s convertible. Mars has weaker sunlight than Earth because it's much farther away from the Sun. But the lander doesn't need much to operate: The panels provide 600 to 700 watts on a clear day, enough to power a household blender and plenty to keep its instruments conducting science on the Red Planet. Even when dust covers the panels - what is likely to be a common occurrence on Mars - they should be able to provide at least 200 to 300 watts.

The panels are modeled on those used with NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander, though InSight's are slightly larger in order to provide more power output and to increase their structural strength. These changes were necessary to support operations for one full Mars year (two Earth years).

In the coming days, the mission team will unstow InSight's robotic arm and use the attached camera to snap photos of the ground so that engineers can decide where to place the spacecraft's scientific instruments. It will take two to three months before those instruments are fully deployed and sending back data.

In the meantime, InSight will use its weather sensors and magnetometer to take readings from its landing site at Elysium Planitia - its new home on Mars.
 

FighterJock

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Good news that the solar panels are now open and collecting sunlight. Cannot wait until InSight sends back the first pictures with the dust cover removed.

Before I forget, this is the official Jet Propulsion Laboratory website. For anyone who is interested.

https://mars.nasa.gov/insight/
 

Grey Havoc

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Thanks, I should have added that myself.

EDIT: Thought it was a separate website from the one I linked to earlier in the thread.
 

FighterJock

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Grey Havoc said:
Thanks, I should have added that myself.

EDIT: Thought it was a separate website from the one I linked to earlier in the thread.
I wondered about that myself Grey Havoc, I was wary about posting the link to the InSight website after seeing your links earlier.
 

Grey Havoc

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No problem, saves people the trouble of going all the way back to the first page of the thread.
 

Flyaway

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Mars mission got lucky: NASA lander touched down in a sand-filled crater, easing study of planet’s interior

PASADENA, CALIFORNIA—In a laboratory on Earth, the marsforming had already begun.

On 27 November, the day after the successful touchdown of NASA’s InSight lander on Mars, after the television crews had departed, technicians here at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) were already at work, simulating Mars for a full-size model of the lander, which they call ForeSight. Scientists don’t yet know exactly where on Mars InSight is. But the first few images sent back to Earth have established its immediate environment—and that the lander is slightly tilted, by 4°. So yesterday, NASA engineers were playing in the sand, moving fake Mars rocks into position. They heaved ForeSight up on their shoulders while shoving small blocks underneath a lander leg to get it listing just right.
 

FighterJock

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Flyaway said:
Mars mission got lucky: NASA lander touched down in a sand-filled crater, easing study of planet’s interior

PASADENA, CALIFORNIA—In a laboratory on Earth, the marsforming had already begun.

On 27 November, the day after the successful touchdown of NASA’s InSight lander on Mars, after the television crews had departed, technicians here at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) were already at work, simulating Mars for a full-size model of the lander, which they call ForeSight. Scientists don’t yet know exactly where on Mars InSight is. But the first few images sent back to Earth have established its immediate environment—and that the lander is slightly tilted, by 4°. So yesterday, NASA engineers were playing in the sand, moving fake Mars rocks into position. They heaved ForeSight up on their shoulders while shoving small blocks underneath a lander leg to get it listing just right.
Hope that does not mean that InSight is in trouble? The JPL controllers will have to find a way to work around the issue.

Four degrees would not be much to cause problems for the mission?
 

TomS

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Not at all. The relatively small degree of tilt (many articles are saying 2 degrees, not 4) is a good thing. They just want to make the engineering model match the real world as much as possible.
 

blackstar

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Flyaway said:
Mars mission got lucky: NASA lander touched down in a sand-filled crater, easing study of planet’s interior

PASADENA, CALIFORNIA—In a laboratory on Earth, the marsforming had already begun.

On 27 November, the day after the successful touchdown of NASA’s InSight lander on Mars, after the television crews had departed, technicians here at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) were already at work, simulating Mars for a full-size model of the lander, which they call ForeSight. Scientists don’t yet know exactly where on Mars InSight is. But the first few images sent back to Earth have established its immediate environment—and that the lander is slightly tilted, by 4°. So yesterday, NASA engineers were playing in the sand, moving fake Mars rocks into position. They heaved ForeSight up on their shoulders while shoving small blocks underneath a lander leg to get it listing just right.
Such a goofy use of the term "lucky." Was it unlucky that it did not land in the center of the bullseye? Was it unlucky that it landed in an area that was more rocky? But was it lucky that it landed in a sandy crater in the middle of the rockier landscape? And was it unlucky that it landed on a tilt? And nowhere does the article say that landing in one of the other nearby spots would have damaged the spacecraft or made its science mission impossible. So it's just a meaningless term here.

Engineers build their own luck.
 

Flyaway

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NASA's Mars InSight Flexes Its Arm

New images from NASA's Mars InSight lander show its robotic arm is ready to do some lifting.

With a reach of nearly 6 feet (2 meters), the arm will be used to pick up science instruments from the lander's deck, gently setting them on the Martian surface at Elysium Planitia, the lava plain where InSight touched down on Nov. 26.

But first, the arm will use its Instrument Deployment Camera, located on its elbow, to take photos of the terrain in front of the lander. These images will help mission team members determine where to set InSight's seismometer and heat flow probe - the only instruments ever to be robotically placed on the surface of another planet.

"Today we can see the first glimpses of our workspace," said Bruce Banerdt, the mission's principal investigator at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "By early next week, we'll be imaging it in finer detail and creating a full mosaic."

Another camera, called the Instrument Context Camera, is located under the lander's deck. It will also offer views of the workspace, though the view won't be as pretty.

"We had a protective cover on the Instrument Context Camera, but somehow dust still managed to get onto the lens," said Tom Hoffman of JPL, InSight's project manager. "While this is unfortunate, it will not affect the role of the camera, which is to take images of the area in front of the lander where our instruments will eventually be placed."

Placement is critical, and the team is proceeding with caution. Two to three months could go by before the instruments have been situated and calibrated.

Over the past week and a half, mission engineers have been testing those instruments and spacecraft systems, ensuring they're in working order. A couple instruments are even recording data: a drop in air pressure, possibly caused by a passing dust devil, was detected by the pressure sensor. This, along with a magnetometer and a set of wind and temperature sensors, are part of a package called the Auxiliary Payload Sensor Subsystem, which will collect meteorological data.

More images from InSight's arm were scheduled to come down this past weekend. However, imaging was momentarily interrupted, resuming the following day. During the first few weeks in its new home, InSight has been instructed to be extra careful, so anything unexpected will trigger what's called a fault. Considered routine, it causes the spacecraft to stop what it is doing and ask for help from operators on the ground.

"We did extensive testing on Earth. But we know that everything is a little different for the lander on Mars, so faults are not unusual," Hoffman said. "They can delay operations, but we're not in a rush. We want to be sure that each operation that we perform on Mars is safe, so we set our safety monitors to be fairly sensitive initially."

Spacecraft engineers had already factored extra time into their estimates for instrument deployment to account for likely delays caused by faults. The mission's primary mission is scheduled for two Earth years, or one Mars year - plenty of time to gather data from the Red Planet's surface.
 

Flyaway

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Mars could've given us a break, but it didn't. The HP3 mole started hammering itself today, and almost immediately (after just 5 minutes) appears to have encountered a rock. After four hours of hammering, it may have pushed the rock aside, but doesn't appear to have buried itself completely beneath the soil yet, because it's still measuring temperatures consistent with the Martian air temperature. No matter; they'll try again Saturday. Patience is the theme of the InSight mission.
http://www.planetary.org/blogs/emily-lakdawalla/2019/insight-update-sol-92-mole-rock.html
 

Grey Havoc

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http://www.marsdaily.com/reports/Mars_InSight_Landers_Mole_Pauses_Digging_999.html
 

FighterJock

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Grey Havoc said:

http://www.marsdaily.com/reports/Mars_InSight_Landers_Mole_Pauses_Digging_999.html
So what will happen now to the Mole? Will NASA try another area on the landing site? or will they continue with the current location.
 

Flyaway

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Talks in this article about what options they are considering with the mole.

Engineers still studying problem with InSight heat flow probe

Engineers are still trying to understand why one of the main instruments on NASA’s InSight Mars lander is stuck just below the Martian surface.

In presentations at the 50th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference here March 18, project officials said they plan to spend the next few weeks determining why the probe on the Heat and Physical Properties Package (HP3) instrument, designed to measure the heat flow in the interior of the planet, is stuck about 30 centimeters below the surface, well short of its desired depth of three to five meters.
 

Flyaway

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InSight's Team Tries New Strategy to Help the 'Mole'

Scientists and engineers have a new plan for getting NASA InSight's heat probe, also known as the "mole," digging again on Mars. Part of an instrument called the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3), the mole is a self-hammering spike designed to dig as much as 16 feet (5 meters) below the surface and record temperature.

But the mole hasn't been able to dig deeper than about 12 inches (30 centimeters) below the Martian surface since Feb. 28, 2019. The device's support structure blocks the lander's cameras from viewing the mole, so the team plans to use InSight's robotic arm to lift the structure out of the way. Depending on what they see, the team might use InSight's robotic arm to help the mole further later this summer.


HP3 is one of InSight's several experiments, all of which are designed to give scientists their first look at the deep interior of the Red Planet. InSight also includes a seismometer that recently recorded its first marsquake on April 6, 2019, followed by its largest seismic signal to date at 7:23 p.m. PDT (10:23 EDT) on May 22, 2019 - what is believed to be a marsquake of magnitude 3.0.

For the last several months, testing and analysis have been conducted at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, which leads the InSight mission, and the German Aerospace Center (DLR), which provided HP3, to understand what is preventing the mole from digging. Team members now believe the most likely cause is an unexpected lack of friction in the soil around InSight - something very different from soil seen on other parts of Mars. The mole is designed so that loose soil flows around it, adding friction that works against its recoil, allowing it to dig. Without enough friction, it will bounce in place.

"Engineers at JPL and DLR have been working hard to assess the problem," said Lori Glaze, director of NASA's Planetary Science Division. "Moving the support structure will help them gather more information and try at least one possible solution."

The lifting sequence will begin in late June, with the arm grasping the support structure (InSight conducted some test movements recently). Over the course of a week, the arm will lift the structure in three steps, taking images and returning them so that engineers can make sure the mole isn't being pulled out of the ground while the structure is moved. If removed from the soil, the mole can't go back in.

The procedure is not without risk. However, mission managers have determined that these next steps are necessary to get the instrument working again.

"Moving the support structure will give the team a better idea of what's happening. But it could also let us test a possible solution," said HP3 Principal Investigator Tilman Spohn of DLR. "We plan to use InSight's robotic arm to press on the ground. Our calculations have shown this should add friction to the soil near the mole."

A Q & A with team members about the mole and the effort to save it is at:

 

Dilandu

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Basically this situation clearly demonstrate, WHY we need manned presence on Mars. Just so those multi-million costly probes would not be paralyzed by some small unforeseen event or little malfunction.
 
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