From the very beginning, made by InSight, NASA's probe looks ready and expensive.
This beautiful mosaic, consisting of 11 separate pictures, shows the entire probe as it sits well on the surface of Mars. The photos were taken from InSight's InSight's robot arm implement camera. The two Lander solar panels can be seen along with various scientific instruments on the deck, such as the weather sensor boom and the UHF antenna. InSight landed on Mars on November 26, and NASA's project became absolutely swimming during these early stages.
The second mosaic, consisting of 52 individual images, shows the immediate InSight workspace, that is, the area on which the probe will eventually put its scientific instruments. The area shown in the mosaic is about 4.27m by 2.13m. The lavender-colored areas show the best places for seismometer placement: seismic internal structure experiment (SEIS).
This, incidentally, is the place where the stationary probe will do its job. NASA chose this special place on Mars, Elysium Planitia, because it is relatively free of rocks. But to make things even better, the probe dropped into an endless cavity – a hole created by an ancient meteoric impact that slowly filled with sand – which seemed to have no rocks, except for a few small stones scattered around,
"The near absence of rocks, hills and holes means it will be extremely safe for our tools," said Inseight chief research executive Bruce Banner in a statement. "It may seem like a pretty simple place if it was not on Mars, but we are happy to see it."
The mission planners will have to decide where the probe should put its ground monitoring devices in that area. Once a location is found, they will pass the probe commands instructing InSight's robotic arm to carefully calibrate the SEIS and its heat probe called the Heat Flow and Physical Properties package at the preselected locations. The flatter the surface, the better, as these tools will work best on flat terrain. For InSight, you should avoid rocks larger than 1.3 inches. Once the borehole begins, the heat probe can be digged to a depth of up to 16 feet (about 5 meters) below the surface of Mars.
With so many potential points of failure, it's a relief to see this project get out to such a smooth start. We hit a tree that things keep going well for NASA and her fearless new probe.[NASA]