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MarsInSightLander during its assembly

NASA INSIGHT is a robotic lander designed to study the deep interior of the planet Mars. The lander is managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory after it was manufactured by the Lockheed martin. Most payload instruments carried by the lander were built by European agencies.

The special space machine was launched on 5th May 2018 at 11.05 UTC aboard AN Atlas V-401 rocket and successfully landed at Elysium plantia on Mars on 26th November 2018 at 19:52:59 UTC. During its journey, it traveled 483 million km before making a successful landing on Mars.

The objectives of its making are to place a seismometer called “SEIS” on the surface of Mars to measure seismic activity and provide accurate 3D models of the planet’s interior and measure internal heat flow using a heat probe called HP3 to study Mars’ early geological evolution.

The Objectives could be a direct source for a new understanding of the solar system’s terrestrial planets like the mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, and Earth’s moon, etc.

The lander was actually planned to launch in March 2016. However, the plan was not successful following the continuous vacuum failure in the instrument prior to launch. After the ratification by the manufacturers, the lander was officially launched in May 2018 after its delay from March 2016.

The delay made it possible for the seismometer issue to be fixed, although it increases the cost from the previous US$675 million to a total of US$830 million. By reusing technology from the Mars Phoenix Lander, which successfully landed on Mars in 2018, the initial efforts made the mission costs and risks to be reduced.

Lockheed began the lander construction on the 19th of May 2014 followed by its general testing on 27th May 2015. However, a persistent vacuum leak in the CNES-seismometer known as the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS) led NASA to postpone the planned launch from March 2016 to May 2018.

On 22nd November, Insight completed its testing in a thermal vacuum, where the spacecraft is put in simulated space conditions with reduced pressure and various thermal loads. On 23rd January 2018, after long storage, its solar panels were once again deployed and tested, and a silicon chip containing 1.6 million names from the public was added to the lander.

On the 28th of February 2018, the lander was shipped with C-17 aircraft from the Lockheed Martin Space Systems building in Denver to the Vandenberg Air Force Base in Califonia in order to be integrated into the launch vehicle.

The report of the successful landing was made open by NASA on the 26th of November. A touchdown image was received, taken through a transparent lens cover, along with the cover on another camera, which would be removed within the next few days.

A few hours later, NASA’s 2001 Mars Odyssey orbiter relayed signals indicating that the InSight’s solar panels had successfully unfurled and are generating electrical power. The power generated from the solar panel is enough to recharge its batteries daily.

The Odyssey also relayed a pair of images showing the landing site of the InSight. NASA could be taking more images in stereo pairs to create 3D images, allowing the InSight to find the best places to put the heat probe and seismometer.


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