NASA has been busy at work engineering a robot assigned with the task of journeying to the Red Planet. It is different from the Mars rovers, such as Spirit and Opportunity, as it has a totally different task at hand. This NASA robot named InSight is a lander, with a specific duty to explore what lies below the planet’s surface. It has been busy at work since it touched down in late 2018.
Following a 205-day journey through space, InSight landed on Mars on November 26, 2018. This lander is equipped with a variety of special tools that are built for understanding many different aspects of the planet. A sensitive seismometer will analyze the seismic activity of the planet, collecting information about Marsquakes and tectonic movement to give scientists an understanding of the depth and composition of the planet and its layers. Additionally, a heat probe will bury deep into the crust to measure internal temperatures and how they fluctuate over the duration of its stay. To understand the core composition, InSight will measure small discrepancies in radio signals from Earth, essentially measuring how wobbly the planet is as it rotates on its axis. So, if the planet’s core is liquid, it’s rotation will be wobbly and if it is solid, it will hardly wobble at all. The act of deploying these instruments is expected to take a few months to ensure no harm is done to the equipment.
We will be sure to keep an eye on updates on InSight’s progress as they are sent in from the Red Planet. Christmas came early for NASA. As of December 19, 2018, InSight has successfully deployed and assembled its seismometer. As this device collects information from the surface of Mars, NASA will be able to gather insightful information about the planet's seismic activity.
Many space exploration missions are powered by devices that utilize thermoelectric energy. Check out how II-VI Marlow’s technology is being used in the Aerospace industry. We also wrote a blog post all about what powers deep space exploration if you are interested in learning more!
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