NASA's Mars InSight flight has to arrive on the Red Planet on Monday, giving scientists a first deep look into the interior of Mars.
InSight is based on Phoenix Lander since 2008, which uses components left over from the canceled Mars Surveyor 2001 lander.
NASA prefers not to talk too much about Surveyor as the ax was operated by the failed spacecraft following the Mars Polar Lander's 1999 crash, which is a surprising NASA landing textbook on Mars.
Phoenix, however, has been a great success, and the landing has overcome NASA's expectations, experiencing nearly two times less than the 90 Martian planets planned for the mission before succumbing to dust and cold in a way that we hope the rover Opportunity does not exist.
By adopting the "if not broken, do not fix it" approach, Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) engineers took the Phoenix Ground Square design and adapted it to InSight. 360kg (once on the ground) has two solar panels with a diameter of 2.2m and will be somewhere between 0.8 and 1.1m tall, depending on how many legs it compresses when landing.
Unlike Phoenix, NASA said it expects InSight to survive almost two Earth years on the surface. Solar panels should provide 600-700W on a clear Martian day and 200-300W when covered with dust.
The power NASA thought would be enough to run with a household mixer and manage the three main landing gear.
50kg of scientific payload consists of SEIS, Heat Exchange and Physical Properties (HP3), and RISE.
The field is also equipped with a robotic hand that will be used to place HP³ and RISE on the surface of the planet. By putting the equipment in direct contact with Martian dirt, scientists expect to avoid the problems caused by the Viking spies of the 1970s, where the seismometers of the surface ship have vibrated from the spacecraft itself and not from the planet.
HP3 has some to do. Difficult from the passenger deck.
SEIS, provided by the French National Center National Spetses (CNES), is a dome-shaped instrument containing three neighborhoods that will detect seismic vibrations on Mars.
Scientists have said that the data returned by the instrument will give an insight into the inner workings and structure of the planet. Investigators have toes that pass that the device will also find liquid water shed beneath the surface as well as active volcanoes underground.
The HP3 heat probe will drill nearly five feet below the surface of the planet after depositing it from InSight's robotic hand. The purpose of the tool is to provide a final measurement of the heat still flowing out of the interior of Mars.
The probe will drop significantly deeper than the planned 2 meters for the ESA ex-masters (though the latter are slightly more mobile) and much more than the previous NASA landers, which are mostly scratched on the surface.
According to instrumental investigator Tilman Sjong, the tool will tell scientists whether Mars and Earth are formed of the same "things", giving an idea of how rocky bodies in the solar system have evolved.
The last basic tool for the RISE mission will track the exact location of the landmark to determine how much the northern pole on Mars is "shaking" as the planet travels around the sun. Scientists will use the data to determine the size of the iron-rich core, and what other elements may be present.
The instrument mounted on the landing deck will also indicate if the core is liquid or solid.
Deep Space CubeSats
Along with the trip to Mars, there are two CubeSats, MarCO-A and B communication relays. Briefcase spacecrafts were designed for demonstrations, but since they both worked great on the Red Planes as independent flyers, a long-range communication relay InSight, with the ground device pointing to the surface.
Marco cricket-ball radio stations can receive in the UHF both transmit and receive in the X-band, so they must be able to immediately transmit the data received back to Earth. The unit will broadcast information during the UHF entry, descent, and landing to NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which can not simultaneously receive in one band and transmit to another. Thus, without Marco, Nerve Engineers on Earth could face more than an hour of waiting for InSight news.
If the spacecraft proves to be viable, the NASA bosses have said that technologists can have applications elsewhere in the solar system and at least allow communication capability to "bring your own relay" during the critical touch phases.
The landing schedule – strikes the right tone
Entertainment begins today at 14:40, when the spacecraft separates itself from the cruise scene that carried it to Mars. A minute later, InSight will be heading for penetration before dropping into the slim atmosphere of the red planet starting at 14:47 EST and traveling at 12,300 miles per hour.
Two minutes later engineers expect the thermal shield on the deck dryer to hit about 1500 ° C or heat-up. 15 seconds later, the spacecraft will receive a maximum deceleration that, together with heating, can cause the radio to spin a bit.
At 14:51 EST the parachute will be deployed, with a heat shield thrown away seconds later. 14:52 EST will see the radar turned on to find the distance to the ground. Shortly thereafter, Lander's retro rockets will be launched and InSight will slow down to 5 km / h before touching at 14:54 EST. InSight will send a tone to Earth at 15:01 to show it's safe.
The tone is important and is one of the series that Earth engineers will listen to while InSight passes every stage of the landing. While the tone itself does not carry much in the way of information, they give an idea of what is happening. For example, when using the parachute, InSight will slow down, which in turn will change the frequency of the signal.
Two telescopes on Earth, the Green Bank Observatory in West Virginia and the Max Planck Institute in Eflesburg, Germany, will be trained on Mars in the hope of detecting signals if experimental players do not play a ball. MRO data will be transmitted to Earth at about 18:00 EST, three hours after landing. Finally, the long orbit of Mars Odyssey 2001 will send its own record of landing events to 20:35 EST, including confirmation that the living solar arrays have been deployed.
However, if everything works the way engineers hope, and Marco is doing their stuff, the backs will unlock at 15:04 EST when the first images from the ground pop-up pop-up window on Earth's screen.
US investment in InSight has so far been 813.8 million dollars, including 163.4 million dollars. France and Germany have provided about $ 180 million for SEIS and HP³, respectively. And these CubeSats? Breaking about $ 18.5 million. ®