"When InSight does training on Mars, we will learn more about how Mars and Earth are formed. We will know more about where we all come from, and why these two rocky worlds are very similar but very different," Bill Nye said. , CEO of the non-profit Planetary Society, said in a statement. "We can learn more about what types of planets can cover life. Sighting is more than a Mars mission – the solar system's mission."
Missions such as inventors have provided extraordinary displays on the surface, including the canyons of Mars, volcanoes, land and rocks, but they are sub-surface building blocks that record the history of the planet. InSight will spend two years investigating the interior.
Like on Earth, there are stories locked in the core of Mars, mantles, and crust. But the history of Mars may be more complete than Earth because the Red Planet is less geologically active.
Mars was chosen for the mission because of this complete record, which is similar to the formation of Earth, Venus, Mercury and the moon. Insight can also investigate planetary tectonic activity and the effects of meteorites.
And this isn't just about Mars. InSight will give us a deeper understanding of how rocky planets in our inner solar system were formed more than 4 billion years ago, like Earth.
This is similar in design to the Phoenix Mars Mission, which studied ice near Mars's north pole in 2008.
MarCO together for the trip
InSight is not alone in this mission. Two suitcase-sized spacecraft, called MarCO, are satellite cubes that followed InSight on their journey. They are the first cube satellites to fly into space. MarCO will try to share data about InSight when entering the Martian atmosphere for landings.
During the entry of InSight, offspring and landings, landers will send information to the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter which is now circling Mars. But the orbiter cannot receive and send data at the same time, which will delay the landing news for about an hour.
However, MarCO can receive and send immediately.
"MarCO-A and B are our first and second interplanetary CubeSats designed to monitor InSight for a short period around landings, if the MarCO pair takes them to Mars," said Jim Green, director of NASA & # 39; s Planetary Sciences Division. "However, the CubeSat mission is not needed for the success of the InSight mission. They are a demonstration of potential future capabilities. The Marco pair will bring their own communication and navigation experiments as they fly independently to the Red Planet."
Landing: What to know
Landing on Mars is very difficult. Only 40% of missions sent to the Red Planet by any agency have succeeded.
Part of this is because the atmosphere of Mars is thin, which is only 1% of the Earth, so there is nothing to slow down something trying to land on the surface.
The United States is the only country that has survived missions landing on Mars, and NASA has flown past, orbited, landed and explored Mars since 1965.
Like the Phoenix spacecraft, InSight will have retro parachutes and rockets to slow its decline through the atmosphere, and the three legs that are hung from landers will try to absorb the shock touching the surface.
But engineers prepared a spacecraft to land during a dust storm if necessary.
Tweaks to the original Phoenix design including heat shields and parachutes. Thick heat shields, capable of being sandblasted by Mars dust storms, while parachute suspension lines are stronger to overcome air resistance.
Insight will not have a blind landing. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter will send weather updates to the mission team in previous days, allowing the team to change when the parachute spreads.
InSight new house
InSight will land at Elysium Planitia, which is called "the largest parking lot on Mars" by astronomers. Because it will not explore the surface, the landing site is an important determination. This place is open, flat safe and boring, which scientists want for a stationary two-year mission.
"If Elysium Planitia is a salad, it will consist of romaine lettuce and kale – no sauce," said lead researcher InSight, Bruce Banerdt of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "If it's ice cream, that must be vanilla."
After landing, InSight will spread its solar panels and robotic arms and study the entire planet from its parking lot. This along the Mars equator, is bright and warm enough to drive a landed solar circuit all year round.
The package of geophysical instruments on the InSight sounds like a doctor's bag, giving Mars the first "inspection" since it was formed. Together, these instruments will measure the vital signs of Mars, such as heart rate, temperature and reflexes – which are translated into internal activities such as seismology and planetary shake when the sun and its moons attract Mars.
These instruments include Seismic Experiments for Interior Structures to investigate what causes seismic waves on Mars, Heat Flow and Physical Property Packages to dig beneath the surface and determine the heat flowing out of the planet, and Experimenting Rotation and Interior Structure to use radio to study the core planet.
InSight will be able to measure earthquakes that occur anywhere on the planet. And it was able to probe the probe to the surface.
"Choosing a good landing location on Mars is very similar to choosing a good home: It's all about location, location, location," said Tom Hoffman, InSight project manager at JPL. "And for the first time, evaluations for Mars landing sites must consider what is beneath the surface of Mars. We not only need a safe place to land, but also work space that can be penetrated by our 16 feet of heat.