NASA’s InSight explorer landed successfully on Mars on November 26, 2018, after a nearly seven-month voyage through deep space. This is the eighth time in human history that NASA has executed a successful landing on the red planet and the first in six years.
The landing begins a two-year mission for the InSight lander to study the deep interior of Mars. Operated by NASA, the explorer is built by scientists in the United States, France and Germany.
• InSight means Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigation, Geodesy and Heat Transport. It has been designed to study the “inner space” of Mars: its crust, mantle and core.
• The two-year mission of the lander will be to study the deep interior of Mars to learn how all celestial bodies were formed with rocky surfaces, including Earth and the Moon.
• It was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on May 5, 2018. It touched on November 26 near the equator of Mars on the west side of a smooth, flat lava expanse called Elysium Planitia.
• The explorer will carry out the mission objectives on the surface of Mars for a period of two years (one Martian year, plus 40 Martian days) until November 24, 2020.
• The landing signal was transmitted to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) of NASA in Pasadena, California, through one of the two small CubeSats Cubes of Mars (Mars Cube One, Marco), which was launched in the same rocket that InSight and followed Mars.
• They are the first CubeSats sent to deep space. After successfully completing a series of communications and flight navigation experiments, the twin MarCOs were placed in position to receive transmissions during the entry, descent and landing of InSight.
The surface operations phase of InSight began one minute after landing. One of his first tasks was to deploy his two decagonal solar matrices, which will provide energy. The process began 16 minutes after landing and took another 16 minutes to complete.
The verification of the successful deployment of the spacecraft’s solar panels will come from NASA’s Odyssey spacecraft, which is currently orbiting Mars.
The deployment of the solar panels of the spacecraft is significant, since it is powered by solar energy.
InSight will begin collecting scientific data within the first week after landing, although teams will focus primarily on preparing InSight instruments in the Martian terrain.
At least two days after landing, the engineering team will begin implementing the 5.9-foot-long (1.8-meter) robotic arm of InSight so it can take pictures of the landscape.
Within two or three months, the arm will deploy the main scientific instruments of the mission, the Seismic Experiment for the Interior Structure (SEIS) and the instruments of the Heat Flow Package and Physical Properties (HP3).