Mars InSight Deploys Its Solar Panels

The first image from NASA's In Sight was returned to Earth almost immediately

The first image from NASA's In Sight was returned to Earth almost immediately

This photo provided by NASA shows an image on Mars that its spacecraft called InSight acquired using its robotic arm-mounted, Instrument Deployment Camera (IDC) after it landed on the planet on Monday, Nov. 26, 2018. These initial images are grainy because the dust shields haven't been removed from the camera lenses yet.

Landing a spacecraft on Mars is, of course, intricate.

The answers are believed to have something to do with the as-yet unexplained absence, since Mars' ancient past, of either a magnetic field or tectonic activity, said Nasa's chief scientist James Green.

What is NASA's Mars InSight? Solar array deployment ensures the spacecraft can recharge its batteries each day. Upon landing, Insight's solar panels will activate and its cameras will survey the landing site.

After the historic InSight touchdown on Mars, NASA is now set to focus on Moon mission by announcing new partnerships with American companies, the USA space agency said.

"We hit the Martian atmosphere at 12,300 mph (19,800 kilometers per hour), and the whole sequence to touching down on the surface took only six-and-a-half minutes", InSight project manager Tom Hoffman at JPL said.

Once the dust settles this is what In Sight will look like when it starts performing science experiments
Once the dust settles this is what In Sight will look like when it starts performing science experiments

I'll give it to them, though - they did just land something on Mars. Mars has weaker sunlight than Earth because it's much farther away from the Sun.

On clear days, the panels will provide InSight with between 600 and 700 watts, which is roughly enough to power a standard kitchen blender. 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.

Watch parties for Nasa's live television coverage of the event were held at museums, libraries and other public venues around the world, including Times Square, where a small crowd of 40 or 50 people braved pouring rain to witness the broadcast on a giant television screen affixed to a wall of the Nasdaq building. These changes were necessary to support operations for one full Mars year (two Earth years).

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.

Though it will be weeks before InSight returns its first measurements of the Martian depths, Monday's landing marks a scientific transformation, observes Marina Koren in The Atlantic: "Geology-the most earthly of all sciences-is about to become interplanetary". InSight is part of NASA's Discovery Program, managed by the agency's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

That was no easy feat with InSight's landing. CNES and IPGP provided the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS) instrument, with significant contributions from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS) in Germany, the Swiss Institute of Technology (ETH) in Switzerland, Imperial College and Oxford University in the United Kingdom, and JPL. The arm deploys the heat flow probe - a mole that burrows 16 feet (five meters) into the ground.

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