InSight's Seismometer Gets a Lid


Mar 3, 2018
NASA landed their "InSight" probe on Mars in November last year, and it brought a suite of sensors and gizmos with it. Among other things, NASA wants to dig into the Martian soil with InSight, but deploying the equipment needed to do that is a painfully slow, and risky, process. But yesterday, NASA announced that a critical stage of that deployment is now complete. One of InSight's robotic arms lifted a dome over InSight's deployed seismomenter, which they call the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure. The "Wind and Thermal Shield" itself is apparently sophisticated enough to get its own name, and the NASA scientists say it will protect the sensitive instrument from harsh Martian winds and temperature fluctuations.

The dome's aerodynamic shape causes the wind to press it toward the planet's surface, ensuring it won't flip over. A skirt made of chain mail and thermal blankets rings the bottom, allowing it to settle easily over any rocks, though there are few at InSight's location... A second line of defense is SEIS itself, which is specially engineered to correct for wild temperature swings on the Martian surface. The seismometer was built so that as some parts expand and contract, others do so in the opposite direction to partially cancel those effects. Additionally, the instrument is vacuum-sealed in a titanium sphere that insulates its sensitive insides and reduces the influence of temperature. But even that isn't quite enough. The sphere is enclosed within yet another insulating container â€" a copper-colored hexagonal box visible during SEIS's deployment. The walls of this box are honeycombed with cells that trap air and keep it from moving. Mars provides an excellent gas for this insulation: Its thin atmosphere is primarily composed of carbon dioxide, which at low pressure is especially slow to conduct heat.
should be interesting to see what they can find. The planet is thought to be long dead seismically, so it would be interesting to see if they hear anything
I wonder how the requisition read for the chain mail skirt. Not exactly an off the shelf material.