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04 декабря 2018, 02:52

InSight Lander Sets ‘Off-World’ Record on First Day

Stay on target

NASA’s InSight lander wasted no time showing off.

During its first full day on Mars, the solar-powered spacecraft generated more electrical power than any previous vehicle on the planet’s surface.

“It is great to get our first ‘off-world record’ on our very first full day on Mars,” project manager Tom Hoffman said in a statement.

“But even better than the achievement,” he continued, “is what it represents for performing our upcoming engineering task.”

The 4,500-plus watt-hour produced during sol 1 means InSight has “more than enough juice” to carry out future assignments “and move forward with our science mission,” Hoffman said.

Launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on May 5, InSight touched down Nov. 26 near Mars’ equator on the western side of a flat, smooth expanse of lava called Elysium Planitia.

The mission team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) has determined the vehicle sits slightly tilted (about 4 degrees) in a shallow, dusty impact crater.

“There are no landing pads or runways on Mars,” Hoffman explained. “So coming down in an area that is basically a large sandbox without any large rocks should make instrument deployment easier and provide a great place for our mole to start burrowing.”

The Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy, and Heat Transport (InSight) spacecraft is on a two-year mission to study Mars’ deep interior.

Its findings, NASA hopes, will help scientists better understand the formation of rocky celestial bodies—Earth and our Moon included.

Initial photos of the landing area reveal few rocks; higher-resolution images are expected to arrive in the coming days, after InSight releases its cameras’ plastic dust covers.

“We are looking forward to higher-definition pictures to confirm this preliminary assessment,” JPL’s Bruce Banerdt, principal investigator of InSight, said. “If these few images—with resolution-reducing dust covers on—are accurate, it bodes well for both instrument deployment and the mole penetration of our subsurface heat-flow experiment.”

Once NASA engineers plan where to deploy the mission’s scientific instruments, the team can unstow and begin initial testing of a built-in 5.9-foot robotic arm.

More coverage on Geek.com:

Source: https://www.geek.com/news/insight-lander-sets-off-world-record-on-first-day-1763869/?source=news