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Beginnings and Endings

by Dr. Lisa Will, Resident Astronomer at the Fleet Science Center

 

On Monday, November 26, 2018, the NASA InSight lander will arrive at Mars. InSight stands for “Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport”. It is the first Mars mission with the primary goal of studying Mars’ interior – crust, mantle, and core. More specifically, the mission has two scientific objectives:

  • To better understand the formation and evolution of rocky planets.
  • To determine the current rate of seismic activity on Mars.

Heat flow will be studied by an instrument (HP3) that will dig deeper below the Martian surface than any previous lander or rover. The RISE instrument will determine the wobble of the North Pole of Mars as it orbits the Sun, which will help understand the size and composition of the core of Mars. The SEIS instrument will detect seismic waves, whether made by the internal seismic activity of Mars or made by meteorite impacts.

The InSight mission launched in May 2018. The landing site is Elysium Planitia, a flat, smooth plain chosen for its relative ease in landing for the spacecraft and proximity to the equator for the craft’s solar arrays to maximally function. The mission is planned to last two years on the surface, with science operations being fully underway about 10 weeks after landing.

 

To learn more about the schedule for landing, go to www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=7279

To keep up with the latest news about InSight, go to https://mars.nasa.gov/insight/

 

Wishing you clear skies!