25 November 2018 |
This Monday afternoon the letters will be released for InSight. After a trip to Mars for half a year, NASA's probe will have its famous "six and a half minutes of horror," in which you must have a parachute and downhill pushers to avoid crashes. If everything goes according to plan, it will only slow down to 2.24 meters per second and rest its buffer feet on the red planet.
Another possibility is not with the project manager Tom Hoffman. "The team has been working hard for a few years and is ready for the moment, and we can finally prepare all our preparations," he sums up in dialogue with ámbito.com.
The first placement of the equipment.
The entrance door of the probe will be a 10 x 24 km rectangle. One goal, compared to the 479 million kilometers required for the crossing, is for scientists in the football metaphor "how do we reach a target of 130,000 kilometers?" In the first 25 seconds of approach, InSight will throw away the heat shield and, for a minute, before touching the Martian desert, use its radar to find the speed and distance to the ground.
Despite the optimism, uncertainties exist and are well grounded: only 40% of missions sent by various space agencies to the failed Mars are successful. For this reason, it will be important to enter accuracy but also aerodynamic factors such as gliding and atmospheric variables such as wind speed and atmospheric density.
Although, according to InSight, the US space agency has a wonderful conclusion: it could choose a friendly surface that they think is "the largest parking lot on Mars," the plains of Elysium Planitia. Also, a full-load ship weighing over 360 kilograms and costing about $ 1 billion was prepared by engineers to land in a storm if necessary. "After arriving, the Earth team will begin the process to choose the best places to place the scientific instruments," the expert explained.
The mission will seek to explore the interior of the red planet for the first time with two main tools. The seismograph will monitor and analyze soil vibrations caused by earthquakes and meteorite impacts. And a thermal flow probe that will penetrate 15 times more in the ground than any other previous hardware to accurately determine the amount of heat that comes out of its interior.
NASA will be testing to measure the "vital signs" of Mars through its impulse (seismology) and its temperature (heat flux). "Engineers will take the time to decide the next steps, and once the tools are in place, InSight will spend the next Martian year (26 Earth months) to watch these signs," Hoffman said.
In addition, special cameras will produce high-quality color images, and if that's not enough, two spacecraft, called Mars Cube One, will fly behind InSight and try to pass data and discover a new way of communicating with the Earth.
Experts will know for a few minutes whether the landing has been successful or not, but will have to wait more than five hours to confirm the deployment of the equipment. If everything goes well, you can transmit data almost immediately, which will be heard by two radio telescopes located in the US and Germany.
Why Investigate the Inside of Mars? A few decades ago, several reports found that this should be one of the scientific priorities, and although several missions were proposed in the coming years, no one was able to fly. This is why the international expectations for this Monday: Besides the vital participation of the French and German space agencies that provided the main instruments, the United Kingdom, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and Poland also cooperated.
One of the great dreams in progress: a human explorer on Mars.
That is, by studying the deep inside of Mars, we can learn how to form other rocky planets such as Earth and the Moon. In short, she is a close relative created by the same primary elements more than 4500 million years ago.
What we learn from this cold, rocky desert world can shed light on our own existence. First and foremost, it will be crucial to fulfill one of the great dreams in the march in the history of conquest of the cosmos: to send a human scientist on the surface of Mars in the coming years.