Pasadena, California. – Mars just welcomed a new resident of the robot.
InSight lander NASA has landed safely on the surface of Mars today (Nov. 26), removing the first successful landing after the Red Planet rover Curiosity arrival in August 2012 – the seventh anniversary of the start of curiosity, not less.
Signals confirming the landing INSIGHT came to Earth at 2:53 pm EST (1953 GMT), causing cries of joy and relief by mission team members and officials, NASA officials are the agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), mission control InSight. A few minutes later, the team has received confirmation from the radio lander that it functions after planting. [NASA’s InSight Mars Lander: Full Coverage]
But the tension is not completely dissipated and will not be for a while yet: Do not mission team members will not know InSight successfully deployed solar panels to 8:35 pm EST (0135 GMT 27 November) in the near future. Without these arrays are expanded, the lander can not survive, let alone probe inter & # 39; er the red planet as never before – the main goal of $ 850 million InSight mission.
Agonizing inevitable delay; Mars Odyssey Orbiter, NASA will not be in a position to relay deployment confirmation for mission control to more than 5 hours after landing, officials said the agency.
If the arrays are really unfold as planned, the InSight on the choice to join the club. Less than 40 percent of all missions to Mars for decades successfully arrived at their destination, whether it's orbital path around the planet or its dusty red surface.
Long road to Mars
InSight started May 5 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, the first in the history of the start of an interplanetary mission from the US West Coast. (Florida Space Coast with a & # 39 is the traditional place to jump as far away travelers.)
InSight shared Atlas V rocket ride with two companions Cubesat size bag called Marco and Marc-A-B, who are making their own way to Mars for the past 6.5 months. The duo of Mark (whose name with the & # 39 is an acronym for «Mars Cube One») was started demonstration mission $ 18 million, which tends to show that a tiny spacecraft can explore deep space.
Marco Make-A and-B also plays a key role in today's excitement, transferring data from Insight to mission control here at JPL during the lander's entry harrowing descent and landing sequence (EDL).
And it was harrowing. InSight hit the thin Mars atmosphere of about 12,300 miles per hour (19,800 km / h) by nailing it entry angle exactly 12 degrees. If the lander come at any better than he would have burned; Any smaller, and it would be jumped atmosphere like a flat stone across the pond.
As the boat streaked across nebya Mars, its heat shield withstood a temperature of about 2700 degrees Fahrenheit (1500 degrees Celsius) – hot enough to melt steel. atmospheric drag slowed down extremely InSight, to about 1.7 times the speed of sound, and at that moment the boat deployed a supersonic parachute.
InSight soon released their small inboard motors to slow down further, finally touching down on a flat plain equatorial called Elisa about 5 miles per hour (8 km / h). (These figures are based on preliminary work simulation landing team InSight EDL, the actual data may be slightly different.)
All this happened in just 6.5 minutes – total travel time INSIGHT into the Martian air from entering the atmosphere before landing. EDL sequence lander was a little shorter than the famous "seven minutes of terror" the experience of Curiosity, which is different from the rocket sky crane, lowered heavy vehicle size rover to the Martian surface on cables. (EDL INSIGHT Mirror that NASA Phoenix landing system, which landed near the north pole of the Red Planet in May 2008. INSIGHT precious remains and is based largely on the fact that out of Phoenix. Coiled Both were built for NASA aerospace company Lockheed Martin)
Marco Make-A and-B does not follow the InSight to the surface. The Bantam probes flew straight on Mars, they have done the work, and their place in history as the first interplanetary satellites Cubesat glued. [NASA’s Mars InSight Lander: 10 Surprising Facts]
"We believe that this is a very interesting technology in general, and we really found something unique in deep space, which will allow us to further future tasks in a compact and efficient manner," said here Marco Manager Cody Collie JPL mission yesterday ( November 25) during a press conference before the landing.
their work probably done, I have to say: It is quite possible that Mark-A and Brand-B can observe an asteroid, or other celestial body, if their paths bring them close enough, and if the financing of the expanded mission given, John Baker, program NASA office manager for the mission Markov, Space.com said.
Probing Mars inter & # 39; career
Just as exciting as the landing was, it was only a prelude to the main event – the science work INSIGHT on the Red Planet.
Over the next two Earth years, the lander will investigate the internal structure and composition of Mars in unprecedented detail. InSight will use two main scientific instruments to do this: the thermal sensor that will kill up to 16 feet (5 meters) beneath the surface of Mars, and a set of three incredibly accurate seismograph, which will be in search of «marsquakes," meteorite impacts and shocks others.
"Incredibly accurate" does not make these seismometers justice, really.
"They can see oscillations with an amplitude of about the size of an atom – can be part of an atom," Insight principal investigator Bruce Banerdt, and JPL, said during a press conference yesterday.
superior seismometer thus enclosed in a vacuum chamber to minimize the interference which may corrupt the data. At the end of 2015 the mission team discovered a leak in the chamber. The leak was fixed, but not in time for the InSight, to start in March 2016, as originally planned. The launch window for flights to Mars ride only once in 26 months, so that the lander had to wait until May of this year to get off the ground.
The scientific team will also monitor the situation INSIGHT in space, using 789-pounds. (358 kg) of the boat transfer connection. This information will enable scientists to measure the slight wobble axis of rotation of Mars, which, in turn, will help them better understand the core of the planet, NASA officials said.
Taken together, these data will give scientists an unprecedented look at the inter & # 39; er the Red Planet.
"That is the goal InSight mission – in fact the card with the inside of Mars in three dimensions, so that we understand the inside of Mars, as well as how we come to understand the surface of Mars," said Banerdt.
And scientists can use Mars as a kind of laboratory to understand how rocky planets in general form, he added. This is because the inside of the Red Planet have been more or less frozen in place shortly after Mars formed about 4.5 billion years ago. We can not look at the earth in the time capsule so because the insides of our planet are constantly roiled over eons of plate tectonics, mantle, and other processes.
InSight (whose name is a & # 39 is an acronym for "internal investigation using seismic studies, surveying and heat") has an unusual degree of international cooperation. Instillation thermal probe was provided by the German Aerospace Center, and the French National Space Agency CNES led the consortium that developed the seismometer package. [Mars InSight: NASA’s Mission to Probe Red Planet’s Core (Gallery)]
Do not wait InSight blind you with beautiful pictures. The mission is not interested in the cool features of the surface, which explains why he landed on Eliza; plain smooth and flat with a small number of boulders, increasing the chances of a safe landing (digging and heat the probe in a position to receive the deeply in mud Mars). And with InSight & # 39 is a lander, rover and not, so any pictures that he takes for his mission will reflect the same area.
It will also take some time for the spacecraft to get up and running on Mars. InSight will use a robotic arm to place the heat probe, seismometer suite and weather shield (which will surround seismometers) on the ground.
None of the other Mars mission has not made such a deployment tool – science programs, as a rule, are fixed to the body or arms of the Red Planet spaceship – InSight and the team wants to make sure that they get it right. Therefore, as soon as they get a view of the Martian environment INSIGHT, they will practice the deployment time and time again using a test bench boat here JPL.
Actual deployment probably will never happen as long as two or three months from now, Banerdt said. And it will take a month or so in order to calibrate the instruments to be used on the Red Planet.
Thus, it will be at least six months before the InSight team even "gets a glimpse of what we're looking for," said Banerdt. And it is likely to take the full two years of the life of the mission, or close to it, to get a really detailed on the Martian inter & # 39; EASURES.
"Once we get to the surface, with the InSight & # 39 mission is delayed," said Banerdt.
Space.com editor in chief Tariq Malikcontributed to this story. Mike Wall book about the search for extraterrestrial life "there"(Grand Central Publishing, 2018 illustrated Charles Tate) On the & # 39 is currently available. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall, Follow us @Spacedotcom or facebook, Originally published Space.com.