NASA's InSight Probe Will Land On Mars Today

AlphaAtlas

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NASA's InSight Mars Lander is scheduled to touch down on the red planet at around 2PM CST today. The craft has traveled over 300 million miles over the course of 7 months, and with the planet in the sights of the spacecraft's cameras, engineers have already made the last major course corrections yesterday. While NASA's TV channel is airing some filler right now, real coverage of the landing will start around 1PM. For those that want to follow the craft's progress, Spaceflightnow is regularly pushing out text updates, while NASA has a relatively commentary-free stream.

Check out the main live stream here.

While most of the country was enjoying Thanksgiving with their family and friends, the InSight team was busy making the final preparations for Monday's landing," said Tom Hoffman of JPL, InSight's project manager. "Landing on Mars is difficult and takes a lot of personal sacrifices, such as missing the traditional Thanksgiving, but making InSight successful is well worth the extraordinary effort."
 

likeman

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don't want it going directly at the planet this time (yes feet per second and meters per second are a tad different)

i thought they stopped doing that conversation stuff now (at least insist that they use metric for everything when they are doing there calculations and try to avoid doing conversions themselves )
 

Dead Parrot

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Was that required braking burn in meters/sec or km/hr? Can be totally metric and still have conversion issues.
 

DejaWiz

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Can hardly wait until a probe gets unfurled upon Uranus.

Then it, too, shall know Pluto's extent of pain.


7C2GfIF.gif
 
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B00nie

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Heh, I hope their lander does better than their presentation:

'Can we continue my animation? Please?' and this was on earth lol.
 

sirmonkey1985

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man i stayed up for this.. please nasa hire spaceX's media team to handle this shit, your broadcasts are so bad..
 

infin@

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Been following this mission for while, thanks for the stream link, nice background conversation while I work.
 

DrBorg

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man i stayed up for this.. please nasa hire spaceX's media team to handle this shit, your broadcasts are so bad..
If I have to listen to this chick for another hour, I'll be going silent, and listening to music. Jeez.

I miss Walter Cronkite. :)
 

DrBorg

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They could have at least named the two follower cubesats Marco and Polo. No humor sense at all.

The broadcast is really dumbed down, and obviously being read off a card by someone who never does that.

This program is probably being blasted in schools, 6th grade and below would be my guess.

Nothing like a SpaceX video.

Meme for the day is "Room So White", lol.

The only represented non-white is Asian. :)

EDIT: They landed it!
 
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sirmonkey1985

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what ever it landed and now i want the last 2 hours of my life back.. i'm going to sleep now.

If I have to listen to this chick for another hour, I'll be going silent, and listening to music. Jeez.

I miss Walter Cronkite. :)
agree, i had to turn that stream off, i couldn't take it anymore but the other one wasn't much better.. i figured at the least they'd put some animation up showing the landing progress but nope..

either way congrats to them on the landing.
 
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Tiberian

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And it's on Mars, and watching all the NASA geeks and nerds spazzing out when it touched down was quite hilarious but hey, they work hard to make the future so I'll forgive them for being so uncoordinated and off-the-beat.

Congrats to all the people involved in the project. :D
 

Sparky

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wow they prempted Discovery channel. I thought they only did it to ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX.
 

B00nie

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LOL the thing the chief said: They know there's liquid water 10 kilometers below the surface. My first thought was, it could as well be at Mars...

They have trouble drilling 6 feet, 10 kilometers hasn't been done on earth.
 

Dayaks

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LOL the thing the chief said: They know there's liquid water 10 kilometers below the surface. My first thought was, it could as well be at Mars...

They have trouble drilling 6 feet, 10 kilometers hasn't been done on earth.
We’ve done 12.2km on Earth.
 
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Absalom

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And it's on Mars, and watching all the NASA geeks and nerds spazzing out when it touched down was quite hilarious but hey, they work hard to make the future so I'll forgive them for being so uncoordinated and off-the-beat.
If you could comprehend how difficult it is to land an object on another planet, no less intact, you'd understand their elation.
 

Korrd

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And it's on Mars, and watching all the NASA geeks and nerds spazzing out when it touched down was quite hilarious
People being excited about the success of something incredibly difficult that may be the crowning achievement of their careers is hilarious? :cautious:

Anyway, tremendous achievement. Seemed like it went exactly according to plan. Really pleased to see the MarCOs worked so well; that opens up a lot of possibilities for future missions. As long as deployment of InSight's instruments goes well, this mission should return some really cool data!
 

Jim Kim

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Now we gotta wait and see if it unfurls the solar panels. The odds are still against it.
If the arrays do unfurl as planned, InSight will join a relatively select club. Less than 40 percent of all Mars missions over the decades have successfully arrived at their destination, be that an orbital path around the planet or its dusty red surface.
 

Tiberian

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People being excited about the success of something incredibly difficult that may be the crowning achievement of their careers is hilarious? :cautious:
No, not the achievement itself, the way they do their celebrating was what I was finding funny, their uncoordinated attempts to high-five each other, the ambiguous hugs where they barely physically touch each other (like it'll be some sexual harassment suit if they do), and so on, that's all. It's almost comical to view but it doesn't mean the achievement is any less important.
 

DrBorg

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I hope it all works; this will tell us a lot about the subsurface, and whether or not we can make fuel there.
 

sirmonkey1985

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Xrave

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Touchdown on Mars! NASA's InSight Lands to Peer Inside the Red Planet

Watch NASA Mission Control at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory erupt in applause after the touchdown of the InSight lander. -- Touchdown on Mars! NASA's InSight Lands to Peer Inside the Red Planet.
Credit: Bill Ingalls/NASA


PASADENA, Calif. — Mars just welcomed a new robotic resident.
NASA's InSight lander touched down safely on the Martian surface today (Nov. 26), pulling off the first successful Red Planet landing since the Curiosity rover's arrival in August 2012 — on the seventh anniversary of Curiosity's launch, no less.

Signals confirming InSight's touchdown came down to Earth at 2:53 p.m. EST (1953 GMT), eliciting whoops of joy and relief from mission team members and NASA officials here at the agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which manages the InSight mission. A few minutes later, the team received confirmation from the lander that it's functioning after the landing.

"It was intense, and you could feel the emotion," said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, who was in the control room here at JPL during the landing. "It was very, very quiet when it was time to be quiet and of course very celebratory with every little new piece of information that was received. It's very different being here than watching it on TV, by far, I can tell you that for sure now that I've experienced both."

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Kris Bruvold, left, and Sandy Krasner react after receiving confirmation that the Mars InSight lander successfully touched down on the surface of Mars
Credit: Bill Ingalls/NASA

But the tension didn't completely dissipate until 8:30 p.m. EST (0130 GMT on Nov. 27), when mission team members learned that InSight successfully deployed its solar panels. Without those arrays extended, the lander could not survive, let alone probe the Red Planet's interior like never before — the main goal of the $850 million InSight mission.

The agonizing delay was unavoidable; NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter wasn't in position to relay the deployment confirmation to mission control until about 5.5 hours after touchdown, agency officials said.

If the arrays do unfurl as planned, InSight will join a relatively select club. Less than 40 percent of all Mars missions over the decades have successfully arrived at their destination, be that an orbital path around the planet or its dusty red surface.

InSight launched on May 5 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, in the first-ever liftoff of an interplanetary mission from the U.S. West Coast. (Florida's Space Coast is the traditional jumping-off point for such far-flung voyagers.)

InSight shared its Atlas V rocket ride with two briefcase-size cubesats called MarCO-A and MarCO-B, which have been making their own way to Mars over the past 6.5 months. The MarCO duo (whose name is short for "Mars Cube One") have been embarked on an $18 million demonstration mission, which seeks to show that tiny spacecraft can explore deep space.

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This photo is the first image of Mars taken by NASA's InSight Mars lander after its successful landing on the plains of Elysium Planitia on Nov. 26, 2018. The dust seen in the image is on a dust cover protecting the camera.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech


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This annotated view of the first Mars photo from NASA's InSight lander shows key parts of the terrain and lander itself after a successful touchdown on Nov. 26, 2018.
Credit: NASA TV

MarCO-A and MarCO-B also played a key role in today's excitement, relaying data from InSight to mission control here at JPL during the lander's harrowing entry, descent and landing (EDL) sequence.

And harrowing it was. InSight hit the thin Martian atmosphere at about 12,300 mph (19,800 km/h), nailing its entry angle of exactly 12 degrees. If the lander had come in any steeper than that, it would have burned up; any shallower, and it would have skipped off the atmosphere like a flat stone across a pond.

As the lander streaked through the Martian skies, its heat shield endured temperatures around 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit (1,500 degrees Celsius) — hot enough to melt steel. Atmospheric drag slowed InSight down tremendously, to about 1.7 times the speed of sound, at which point the lander deployed its supersonic parachute.

InSight soon fired up its small onboard thrusters to decelerate further, finally touching down on a flat equatorial plain called Elysium Planitia at around 5 mph (8 km/h). (These numbers are based on pre-landing modeling work by the InSight EDL team; the actual figures may end up being slightly different.)

All of this happened in just 6.5 minutes — InSight's total travel time in the Martian air, from atmospheric entry to touchdown. The lander's EDL sequence was a bit shorter than Curiosity's famous "7 minutes of terror" experience, which featured a rocket-powered sky crane that lowered the heavy, car-size rover onto the Martian surface on cables. (InSight's EDL mirrors that of NASA's Phoenix lander, which touched down near the Red Planet's north pole in May 2008. InSight's body is also based heavily on that of Phoenix; both landers were built for NASA by aerospace company Lockheed Martin.)

MarCO-A and MarCO-B didn't follow InSight onto the surface. The bantam probes flew right on by Mars, their work done and their place in history as the first interplanetary cubesats cemented.

"We believe that this is a really interesting technology overall, and we've really shown something unique in deep space that will allow us to further future missions in a compact and efficient way," MarCo-A mission manager Cody Colley of JPL said here yesterday (Nov. 25) during a pre-landing news conference.

Their work is probably done, I should say: It's possible that MarCO-A and MarCO-B could observe an asteroid or other celestial body if their paths bring them close enough, and if funding for an extended mission is granted, John Baker, NASA's program office manager for the MarCO mission, told Space.com.

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A diagram of NASA's InSight Mars lander and its science instruments to look inside the Red Planet.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech - Adrian Mann/Tobias Roetsch/Future Plc


As exciting as the landing was, it was just the prelude to the main event — InSight's science work on the Red Planet.

Over the next two Earth years, the lander will probe Mars' interior structure and composition in unprecedented detail. InSight will use two main science instruments to do this: a heat probe that will hammer itself up to 16 feet (5 meters) beneath the Martian surface, and a suite of three incredibly precise seismometers, which will be on the lookout for "marsquakes," meteorite strikes and other jolts.

"Incredibly precise" doesn't do these seismometers justice, actually.

"They can see vibrations with an amplitude of about the size of an atom — maybe a fraction of an atom," InSight principal investigator Bruce Banerdt, also of JPL, said during yesterday's news conference.

The seismometer suite is therefore encased in a vacuum chamber, to minimize disturbances that could muck up the data. In late 2015, the mission team detected a leak in this chamber. The leak was fixed, but not in time for InSight to launch in March 2016, as originally planned. Launch windows for Mars missions roll around just once every 26 months, so the lander had to wait until this past May to get off the ground.

The science team will also track InSight's position in space using the 789-lb. (358 kilograms) lander's communications gear. This information will allow scientists to measure the slight wobble of Mars' axis of rotation, which in turn will help them better understand the planet's core, NASA officials have said.

Together, all of this data will give scientists an unprecedented look at the Red Planet's interior.

"That is the goal of the InSight mission — to actually map out the inside of Mars in three dimensions, so that we understand the inside of Mars as well as we have come to understand the surface of Mars," Banerdt said.

And scientists can use Mars as a sort of laboratory to understand how rocky planets in general form, he added. That's because the Red Planet's insides have been more or less frozen in place since shortly after Mars formed about 4.5 billion years ago. We can't look to Earth as a time capsule in this way because our planet's insides have been roiled continuously over the eons by plate tectonics, mantle convection and other processes.


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NASA's InSight Mars lander captured this view of its surroundings shortly after touching down on the Red Planet on Nov. 26, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech via Twitter

InSight (whose name is short for "Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport") features an unusual degree of international cooperation. The burrowing heat probe was provided by the German Aerospace Center, and France's national space agency CNES led the consortium that developed the seismometer suite.

Don't expect InSight to dazzle you with pretty pictures. The mission isn't interested in cool surface features, which explains why it landed on Elysium Planitia; the plain is smooth and flat with a paucity of boulders, boosting the odds of a safe landing (and of the burrowing heat probe being able to get deep down into the Martian dirt). And InSight is a lander, not a rover, so any photos that it takes over the course of its mission will depict the same terrain.

It'll also take a while for the spacecraft to get up and running on Mars. InSight will use its robotic arm to place the heat probe, the seismometer suite and a weather shield (which will surround the seismometers) on the ground.

No other Mars mission has done such an instrument deployment — science gear tends to be fixed to the bodies or arms of Red Planet spacecraft — and the InSight team wants to make sure they get it right. So, once they get a look at InSight's Martian surroundings, they'll practice the deployment over and over using a testbed lander here at JPL.

Actual deployment probably won't happen until two or three months from now, Banerdt said. And it'll take another month or so to calibrate the instruments for use on the Red Planet.

So, it'll be at least six months before the InSight team even "gets a glimmer of what we're looking for," Banerdt said. And it'll likely take the full two-year mission lifetime, or close to it, to get a really detailed look at the Martian interior.

"Once we get to the surface, InSight is a slow-motion mission," Banerdt said.

This story was updated at 10:20 p.m. EST to state that NASA has received confirmation that InSight's solar arrays have deployed.
 
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