InSight mission engineering team prepares to land on Mars

In just a few days, Monday, November 26 at 20:53 Polish time, the InSight probe is expected to touch the surface of Mars. NASA specialists have confirmed that the lander is on a near-perfect trajectory. This is the first landing on Mars since the Curiosity rover was planted there in 2012.

The last chance to correct the course will be on Sunday, but the current trajectory is almost perfect and engineers will probably not change anything. – Right now, the course looks really good. We will work on the final parameters in the coming days. Despite the Thanksgiving holiday, there will be a group of people at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, whichoers to ensure a successful landing – said Tom Hoffman, InSight project manager at NASA.

The InSight probe launched on May 5. After more than pohe year-long flight and hopefully successful landing near the Martian rownika, will begin a two-year mission that willora will be the first to explore the interior of Mars.

The probe’s flight is being tracked by two cubesat-class mini-satellites, ktore flew together with the InSight mission’s spacecraft and lander on their way to Mars. The task of MarCO-A (Mars Cube One) and MarCO-B, fondly called by the combinedol operating the mission Eve and Wall-E, just like the two robots from the animated Pixar movie, will report on the difficult landing maneuver on Mars. Coverage of the landing will be available live on NASA channels.

MarCO’s Cubestats are the first of their kind sent into far space. Most of such satellitesoIn orbiting the Earth. Originally, the cubesats were intended to serve students and teach them how to build satellitesow. Now they are the most frequently sent satellites into orbit. They provide data on almost every subject – from the trailoin shipping to environmental changes. Their flight to Mars is an important test for the technology. Future missions to distant worlds will be able to take their own relays with them in the form of just such satellitesow.

Landing is the most difficult phase of the mission. Of all the Martian missions, the landing maneuver was successful only half the timeow. – It’s a tricky maneuver. It takes skill, focus and years of preparation, said Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s deputy administrator for the Science Mission Division in Washington, DC. – With our ambitious goal of sending humans to the surface of the Moon and then Mars, I know that our amazing team ofol science and engineering, the only one in the world thatory successfully landed spacecraft on the surface of Mars, will do everything to ensure the success of the InSight mission’s landing on the Red Planet – added.

Although the flight itself was calm, the emotions of the engineerow reach the zenith on Monday. The probe will enter the atmosphere of Mars at a speed of 19,800 kilometersow on the hour. Next, the braking engines and parachute will be deployed. In less than seven minutes, they have to decelerate the speed to prevent the probe from smashing into the planet’s surface.

– It is powod, for whichorego engineers determine the landing „seven minutes of terror”. During this maneuver, we cannot manipulate the spacecraft, we must rely on commands entered earlier. We’ve spent years testing our plans, learning from other Mars landings, and studying all the conditions Mars can impose on us. We will remain vigilant, dopoki InSight will not land in the Elysium Planitia region – admitted Rob Grover, head of the team responsible for the landing.

But the probe won’t start working right after landing. After a successful maneuver by the teamol from NASA will begin the process of deploying the instrumentoin science, ktory may take up to three months. – Landing on Mars is exciting, but scientists are looking forward to the time after the InSight mission has already landed. Once InSight is deposited on the Red Planet and the instruments are deployed, the lander will begin collecting valuable information about the structure of Mars’ deep interior, said NASA’s Lori Glaze. – The information, whichore we hope to collect during this mission, will help us understand the formation and evolution of all rocky planets, including the one thatowhich we call home – added.

Wspolna US-French-German mission will monitor the seismic activity of Mars. Scientists will want to get an indicationowks on the internal structure of the planet. The lander, using a robotic arm, will deploy two scientific instruments – a seismometer and a proheat tank.

InSight will monitor the planet’s pulse by detecting vibrations caused by surface quakes, meteorite impactsow and other such events. It will use the ultra-precise SEIS (Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure) seismometer for this purpose.

The second mainoThe HP3 (Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package) is an important scientific instrument – probnik to measure heat flux from the interior of the planet, whichory will be introduced to a depth of 5 metersointo the Martian soil. The maker of the impingement mechanism „Crete HP3” is a Polish company Astronika, whichorej engineers have made the Polish space industry known at NASA for producing the world’s best penetrating devices for space missions.

Astronika as coordinator of the production process „Crete HP3” has engaged several Polish centers for subcontractingoIn scientific, Space Research Center of the Polish Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Aviation, the Institute of Welding, the Technical University of Lodzka and Warsaw University of Technology.

Mole HP3 is a complete device entirely made in Poland, which is groundbreaking for the Polish space sector, because for the first time ever a Polish company and its subcontractors are providing a complete subsystem, rather than individual components or processes.

The task of this device will be to study the history of Mars’ formation, study the changes that are taking place in the planet’s structure, temperature, study the planet’s core. Never before has any device penetrated the surface of Mars to such a depth.

The third mainoThe Rotation and Interior Structure Experiment (RISE) is an important scientific instrument – instrument used to measure the Doppler shift signaloin between InSight and Earth. It will allow the detection of minute variations in the rotation axis of Mars, which should give some idea of the planet’s core, including its size.