JPL: InSight to Take First Look Deep Inside Mars

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JPL: InSight to Take First Look Deep Inside Mars

Post by bystander » Mon Aug 20, 2012 9:37 pm

New Mission to Take First Look Deep Inside Mars
NASA JPL-Caltech | 2012 Aug 20
NASA has selected a new mission, set to launch in 2016, that will take the first look into the deep interior of Mars to see why the Red Planet evolved so differently from Earth as one of our solar system's rocky planets.

The new mission, named InSight, will place instruments on the Martian surface to investigate whether the core of Mars is solid or liquid like Earth's, and why Mars' crust is not divided into tectonic plates that drift like Earth's. Detailed knowledge of the interior of Mars in comparison to Earth will help scientists understand better how terrestrial planets form and evolve.

"The exploration of Mars is a top priority for NASA, and the selection of InSight ensures we will continue to unlock the mysteries of the Red Planet and lay the groundwork for a future human mission there," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. "The recent successful landing of the Curiosity rover has galvanized public interest in space exploration and today's announcement makes clear there are more exciting Mars missions to come."

InSight will be led by W. Bruce Banerdt at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. InSight's science team includes U.S. and international co-investigators from universities, industry and government agencies. The French space agency Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales, or CNES, and the German Aerospace Center are contributing instruments to InSight, which is scheduled to land on Mars in September 2016 to begin its two-year scientific mission.

InSight is the 12th selection in NASA's series of Discovery-class missions. Created in 1992, the Discovery Program sponsors frequent, cost-capped solar system exploration missions with highly focused scientific goals. NASA requested Discovery mission proposals in June 2010 and received 28. InSight was one of three proposed missions selected in May 2011 for funding to conduct preliminary design studies and analyses. The other two proposals were for missions to a comet and Saturn's moon Titan.

InSight builds on spacecraft technology used in NASA's highly successful Phoenix lander mission, which was launched to the Red Planet in 2007 and determined water existed near the surface in the Martian polar regions. By incorporating proven systems in the mission, the InSight team demonstrated that the mission concept was low-risk and could stay within the cost-constrained budget of Discovery missions. The cost of the mission, excluding the launch vehicle and related services, is capped at $425 million in 2010 dollars.

"Our Discovery Program enables scientists to use innovative approaches to answering fundamental questions about our solar system in the lowest cost mission category," said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters. "InSight will get to the 'core' of the nature of the interior and structure of Mars, well below the observations we've been able to make from orbit or the surface."

InSight will carry four instruments. JPL will provide an onboard geodetic instrument to determine the planet's rotation axis and a robotic arm and two cameras used to deploy and monitor instruments on the Martian surface. CNES is leading an international consortium that is building an instrument to measure seismic waves traveling through the planet's interior. The German Aerospace Center is building a subsurface heat probe to measure the flow of heat from the interior.

For more information about InSight, visit: http://insight.jpl.nasa.gov.

For more information about the Discovery Program, visit: http://discovery.nasa.gov.
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JPL: New InSight on Mars Expected from New NASA Mission

Post by bystander » Tue Aug 21, 2012 1:19 am

New Insight on Mars Expected from New NASA Mission
NASA JPL-Caltech | InSight | 2012 Aug 20
On Aug. 20, NASA announced the selection of InSight, a new Discovery-class mission that will probe Mars at new depths by looking into the deep interior of Mars.

"We are certainly excited, but our veterans on this team know the drill," said Tom Hoffman, project manager for InSight from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "Which is fortunate, because one of the great things we'll get to do on Mars is drill below the surface."

Drilling underneath the red Martian topsoil will be courtesy of InSight's HP3, or Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package - one of the four instruments the Mars lander will carry. Made by the German Aerospace Center, or DLR, HP3 will get below Mars' skin by literally pounding it into submission with a 14-inch (35-centimeter), hollowed-out, electromechanically-festooned stake called the Tractor Mole.

"The Tractor Mole has an internal hammer that rises and falls, moving the stake down in the soil and dragging a tether along behind it," said Sue Smrekar, deputy project scientist for InSight from JPL. "We're essentially doing the same thing any Boy or Girl Scout would do on a campout, but we're putting our stake down on Mars."

The German-built mole will descend up to 16 feet (five meters) below the surface, where its temperature sensors will record how much heat is coming from Mars' interior, which reveals the planet's thermal history.

"Getting well below the surface gets us away from the sun's influence and allows us to measure heat coming from the interior," said Smrekar. "InSight is going take heartbeat and vital signs of the Red Planet for an entire Martian year, two Earth years. We are really going to have an opportunity to understand the processes that control the early planetary formation."

InSight stands for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport. The mission is led by W. Bruce Banerdt of JPL. InSight's science team includes U.S. and international co-investigators from universities, industry and government agencies. Along with DLR, the French space agency Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales, or CNES, is also contributing an instrument to the two-year scientific mission.

InSight builds on spacecraft technology used in NASA's highly successful Phoenix lander mission, which was launched to the Red Planet in 2007 and determined that water ice exists near the surface in the Martian polar regions.

Along with providing an onboard geodetic instrument to determine the planet's rotation axis, plus a robotic arm and two cameras used to deploy and monitor instruments on the Martian surface, JPL performs project management for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the Discovery Program for the agency's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver will build the spacecraft. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.
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Re: JPL: InSight to Take First Look Deep Inside Mars

Post by Moonlady » Tue Aug 21, 2012 1:44 am

Very interesting! Can't wait 2016 to come quickly enough!

Maybe they find underground caves and foreign minerals and locked gas...I am not looking for Martians pop out angry because of being laser attacked by Curiosity and InSight peeking into their territory :lol2:

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InSight: Mission, Science, and Technology

Post by bystander » Tue Aug 21, 2012 2:02 am

InSight
Mission Overview
InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) is a proposed NASA Discovery Program mission that will place a single geophysical lander on Mars to study its deep interior. But InSight is more than a Mars mission - it is a terrestrial planet explorer that will address one of the most fundamental issues of planetary and solar system science - understanding the processes that shaped the rocky planets of the inner solar system (including Earth) more than four billion years ago.

By using sophisticated geophysical instruments, InSight will delve deep beneath the surface of Mars, detecting the fingerprints of the processes of terrestrial planet formation, as well as measuring the planet's "vital signs": Its "pulse" (seismology), "temperature" (heat flow probe), and "reflexes" (precision tracking).

InSight seeks to answer one of science's most fundamental questions: How did the terrestrial planets form?

Why Mars?

Previous missions to Mars have investigated the surface history of the Red Planet by examining features like canyons, volcanoes, rocks and soil, but no one has attempted to investigate the planet's earliest evolution - its building blocks - which can only be found by looking far below the surface.

Because Mars has been less geologically active than the Earth (for example, it does not have plate tectonics), it actually retains a more complete record of its history in its own basic planetary building blocks: its core, mantle and crust.

By studying the size, thickness, density and overall structure of the Red Planet's core, mantle and crust, as well as the rate at which heat escapes from the planet's interior, the InSight mission will provide glimpses into the evolutionary processes of all of the rocky planets in the inner solar system.

In terms of fundamental processes that shape planetary formation, Mars is a veritable "Goldilocks" planet, because it is big enough to have undergone the earliest internal heating and differentiation (separation of the crust, mantle and core) processes that shaped the terrestrial planets (Earth, Venus, Mercury, Moon), but small enough to have retained the signature of those processes over the next four billion years. Within its own structural signature, Mars may contain the most in-depth and accurate record in the solar system of these processes.

The InSight mission will follow the legacy of NASA's Mars Phoenix mission and send a lander to Mars, which will delve deeper into the surface than any other spacecraft - to investigate the planet's structure and composition as well as its tectonic activity as it relates to all terrestrial planets, including Earth.

Objectives

The InSight mission will seek to understand the evolutionary formation of rocky planets, including Earth, by investigating the interior structure and processes of Mars. InSight will also investigate the dynamics of Martian tectonic activity and meteorite impacts, which could offer clues about such phenomena on Earth.

Spacecraft and Payload

The InSight mission is similar in design to the Mars lander that the Phoenix mission used successfully in 2007 to study ground ice near the north pole of Mars. The reuse of this technology, developed and built by Lockheed-Martin Space Systems in Denver, CO, will provide a low-risk path to Mars without the added cost of designing and testing a new system from scratch.

The InSight lander will be equipped with two science instruments that will conduct the first "check-up" of Mars in more than 4.5 billion years, measuring its "pulse", or internal activity; its temperature; and its "reflexes" (the way the planet wobbles when it is pulled by the Sun and its moons). Scientists will be able to interpret this data to understand the planet's history, its interior structure and activity, and the forces that shaped rocky planet formation in the inner solar system.

The science payload is comprised of two instruments: the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS), provided by the French Space Agency (CNES), with the participation of the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (IPGP), the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS), Imperial College and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL); and the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3), provided by the German Space Agency (DLR). In addition, the Rotation and Interior Structure Experiment (RISE), led by JPL, will use the spacecraft communication system to provide precise measurements of planetary rotation.

Mission Details

One of three proposed missions competing for funding within NASA's Discovery Program, InSight is slated for a March 2016 launch date and set to arrive on the surface of Mars in late 2016. It will rely on proven technologies used on NASA's Mars Phoenix mission, and will send a lander to the Martian surface that will spend two years investigating the deep interior of Mars - as well as the processes that not only shaped the Red Planet, but also rocky planets throughout the inner solar system.

InSight Key Dates
  • Launch: March 8 - March 27, 2016
  • Landing: September 20, 2016
  • Surface operations: 720 days / 700 sols
  • First science return: October 2016
  • Instrument deployment: 60 sols (including 20 sols margin)
  • Data volume over 1 Martian year: More than 29 Gb (processed seismic data posted to the Web in 2 weeks; remaining science data less than 3 months, no proprietary period)
  • End of Mission: September 18, 2018
Science Objectives
  • InSight's primary objective is to uncover how a rocky body forms and evolves to become a planet. Generally, a rocky body begins its formation through a process called accretion. As the body increases in size, its interior heats up and melts. As it subsequently cools and recrystallizes it evolves into what we know today as a terrestrial planet, containing a core, mantle and crust. While all of the terrestrial planets share similar structures and their bulk compositions are roughly the same as the meteoritic material from which they were formed, they are by no means uniform. Each of the terrestrial planets reached their current formation and structure through a process known as differentiation, which is poorly understood. InSight's goal is to solve the mystery of differentiation in planetary formation - and to bridge the gap of understanding that lies between accretion, and the final formation of a terrestrial planet's core, mantle, and crust.
  • The mission's secondary objective is to conduct an in-depth study of tectonic activity and meteorite impacts on Mars, both of which could provide valuable knowledge about such processes on Earth.
To achieve each of these objectives, InSight will conduct six investigations on and below the surface of Mars to uncover the evolutionary history that shaped all of the rocky planets in the inner solar system.
  • Determine the size, composition, physical state (liquid/solid) of the Martian core
    Determine the thickness and structure of the Martian crust
    Determine the composition and structure of the Martian mantle
    Determine the thermal state of Mars' interior
    Measure the magnitude, rate and geographical distribution of Mars' internal seismic activity
    Measure the rate of meteorite impacts on the surface of Mars
Technology

The InSight Lander will carry three instruments to the surface of Mars to take the first-ever in-depth look at the planet's "vital stats": its pulse, or internal activity, as measured by the SEIS instrument; its temperature as measured by the HP3 instrument; and its reflexes as measured by the RISE instrument. Together, the data will provide essential clues about the evolution of not just Mars, but also all the terrestrial planets.

SEIS: Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure - To capture Mars' pulse, or its internal activity, InSight will carry a seismometer called SEIS to the surface of the Red Planet. SEIS will take precise measurements of quakes and other internal activity on Mars to better understand the planet's history and structure.

HP3: Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package - To take Mars' temperature, a key indicator of planetary evolution, InSight will deploy a heat flow probe on the surface of Mars. The instrument, known as HP3, will hammer five meters into the Martian subsurface, deeper than all previous arms, scoops, drills and probes, to learn how much heat is coming from Mars' interior and reveal the planet's thermal history.

RISE: Rotation and Interior Structure Experiment - To track Mars' reflexes, or the way it wobbles when it is pulled by the sun, an investigation called RISE will precisely measure the Doppler shift and ranging of radio communications sent between the InSight lander and Earth. By tracking wobble, scientists can determine the distribution of the Red Planet's internal structures and better understand how the planet is built.

Cameras: Insight will incorporate a camera, similar to the "Navcam" engineering cameras onboard the Mars Exploration Rovers (MER), mounted on the arm of the lander that will serve to capture black and white images of the instruments on the lander's deck and a 3-D view of the ground where the seismometer and heat flow probe will be placed. It will then be used to help engineers and scientists guide the deployment of the instruments to the ground. With a 45-degree field of view, the camera will also provide a panoramic view of the terrain surrounding the landing site.

A second similar camera, with a wide-angle 120-degree field of view lens like the "Hazcam" cameras on MER, will be mounted under the edge of the lander's deck and will provide a complementary view of the instrument deployment area.
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Re: JPL: InSight to Take First Look Deep Inside Mars

Post by neufer » Thu Aug 23, 2012 10:41 am

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/across-the-universe/2012/aug/23/another-mars-mission-nasa-wrong-choice?newsfeed=true wrote:
Another Mars mission: has Nasa made the wrong choice?
Nasa may be taking the 'easy option' by funding another trip to Mars when it could be sailing the methane seas of Titan
Stuart Clark, 23 August 2012, guardian.co.uk

<<Just a few weeks ago I was worrying about the future of Mars exploration. Now I'm thinking, 'Mars – again?'

On Monday we learned that Nasa would fund the InSight mission, which will investigate the interior of the red planet using seismometers and other instruments. The agency chose InSight over a voyage on the methane seas of Saturn's moon Titan; or a hop, skip and jump across the surface of a comet.

The decision drew criticism that the agency is becoming fixated on Mars. Carolyn Porco, who works on Nasa's ageing Saturn mission Cassini, stated that there is "too much emphasis on Mars in our current plans for planetary exploration".

It is not that InSight will return bad science, and I'm thrilled for the teams building its instruments, but it will launch in 2016, three years after the Mars MAVEN mission and just a few years before another promised Mars mission that Nasa is expected to announce soon.

A look at the current Nasa manifest shows a distinct preference for missions to the inner solar system, especially to the moon, Mars and asteroids. Of the six spacecraft launched since New Horizons set off for Pluto in January 2006, only the Jupiter mission Juno is going to the outer solar system. With the selection of InSight, the next four missions will similarly head for nearby targets.

As it stands, Nasa has no further plans to explore the outer solar system once New Horizons and Juno are complete.

Announcing InSight, John Grunsfeld, Nasa's associate administrator for Science, said it showed the best chance of keeping within budget and on schedule, which is similar to the logic used to fund the Mars MAVEN mission. While admirable in one respect, this raises the question of whether Nasa now see Mars as an "easy option".

In the accompanying press release, Nasa's administrator Charles Bolden stated that the selection "ensures we will continue to unlock the mysteries of the red planet and lay the groundwork for a future human mission there".

This logic is difficult to follow. The question of whether Mars is geologically active is crucial for planetary scientists piecing together the history of the planet, yet it is hard to see how it will greatly benefit a human mission. If dangerously large marsquakes were common, we would have seen the results in the decades' worth of images that have been taken from orbit.

The comment also jars because there is no money on the table for landing humans on Mars. With the success of Curiosity, Mars is now well served and this selection was a chance to visit somewhere else.

Comet Hopper would have put a lander on comet Wirtanen. It is similar, though much smaller in scope, to Esa's Rosetta lander, which will arrive at its target comet in 2014.

The Titan Mare Explorer (TiME), however, was unique. It was designed to follow up Esa's Huygens lander, which touched down on Titan in January 2005. Saturn's largest moon, Titan, is revealing itself to be arguably the most Earth-like world in the solar system. It has a thick atmosphere and weather similar to ours, although instead of water, its sea, lakes and rain are composed of liquid methane.

TiME would have floated in the Titan sea, showing us this truly alien place. As it stands, Huygens could become the robotic equivalent of the Apollo moon missions: a great start that was simply abandoned. If this were to happen, it would be a tragedy.

All may not be lost. The Kepler space telescope was proposed five times before being accepted and funded by Nasa. After each rejection the team worked harder to prove their concept until Nasa could ignore them no longer. Now, the telescope is in space and capturing headlines by discovering thousands of planets around other stars.

Let us hope the team behind TiME can battle on, and that we may yet sail on Titan.

Let us also get behind InSight and look forward to understanding the interior of Mars.>>
Art Neuendorffer

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JPL: NASA Begins Testing Mars Lander for Next Mission

Post by bystander » Sat Jun 13, 2015 1:49 pm

NASA Begins Testing Mars Lander for Next Mission to Red Planet
NASA | JPL-Caltech | InSight | 2015 May 27
[img3="The solar arrays on NASA's InSight lander are deployed in this test inside a clean room at Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver. This configuration is how the spacecraft will look on the surface of Mars. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Lockheed Martin)"]http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/images/pia1 ... ht_720.jpg[/img3][hr][/hr]
Testing is underway on NASA's next mission on the Journey to Mars, a stationary lander scheduled to launch in March 2016.

The lander is called InSight, an abbreviation for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport. It is about the size of a car and will be the first mission devoted to understanding the interior structure of the Red Planet. Examining the planet's deep interior could reveal clues about how all rocky planets, including Earth, formed and evolved.

The current testing will help ensure InSight can operate in and survive deep space travel and the harsh conditions of the Martian surface. The spacecraft will lift off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, and land on Mars about six months later.

The technical capabilities and knowledge gained from Insight, and other Mars missions, are crucial to NASA's journey to Mars, which includes sending astronauts to the Red Planet in the 2030s. ...
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JPL: NASA Prepares for First Interplanetary CubeSats

Post by bystander » Sat Jun 13, 2015 2:03 pm

NASA Prepares for First Interplanetary CubeSats
NASA | JPL-Caltech | InSight | MarCO | 2015 Jun 12
[img3="NASA's two small MarCO CubeSats will be flying past Mars in 2016 just as NASA's next Mars lander, InSight, is descending through the Martian atmosphere and landing on the surface. MarCO, for Mars Cube One, will provide an experimental communications relay to inform Earth quickly about the landing. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)"]http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/images/15-122a.jpg[/img3][hr][/hr]
When NASA launches its next mission on the journey to Mars – a stationary lander in 2016 – the flight will include two CubeSats. This will be the first time CubeSats have flown in deep space. If this flyby demonstration is successful, the technology will provide NASA the ability to quickly transmit status information about the main spacecraft after it lands on Mars.

The twin communications-relay CubeSats, being built by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, California, constitute a technology demonstration called Mars Cube One (MarCO). CubeSats are a class of spacecraft based on a standardized small size and modular use of off-the-shelf technologies. Many have been made by university students, and dozens have been launched into Earth orbit using extra payload mass available on launches of larger spacecraft.

The basic CubeSat unit is a box roughly 4 inches (10 centimeters) square. Larger CubeSats are multiples of that unit. MarCO's design is a six-unit CubeSat – about the size of a briefcase -- with a stowed size of about 14.4 inches (36.6 centimeters) by 9.5 inches (24.3 centimeters) by 4.6 inches (11.8 centimeters).

MarCO will launch in March 2016 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California on the same United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket as NASA’s Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) lander. Insight is NASA’s first mission to understand the interior structure of the Red Planet. MarCO will fly by Mars while InSight is landing, in September 2016. ...
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JPL: Mars Spacecraft Shipped to California for March Launch

Post by bystander » Fri Dec 18, 2015 7:33 pm

Mars Spacecraft Shipped to California for March Launch
NASA | JPL-Caltech | InSight | 2015 Dec 17

NASA’s next Mars spacecraft has arrived at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, for final preparations before a launch scheduled in March 2016 and a landing on Mars six months later.

Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, built and tested the spacecraft and delivered it on Dec. 16 from Buckley Air Force Base in Denver to Vandenberg, on the central California Coast.

Preparations are on a tight schedule for launch during the period March 4 through March 30. The work ahead includes installation and testing of one of the mission’s key science instruments, its seismometer, which is scheduled for delivery to Vandenberg in January. ...
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Re: JPL: InSight to Take First Look Deep Inside Mars

Post by Alohascope » Mon Dec 21, 2015 10:59 pm

Moonlady wrote:Very interesting! Can't wait 2016 to come quickly enough!

Maybe they find underground caves and foreign minerals and locked gas...I am not looking for Martians pop out angry because of being laser attacked by Curiosity and InSight peeking into their territory :lol2:
Yes, we should be sent some very interesting data.

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NASA Suspends 2016 Launch of InSight Mission to Mars

Post by bystander » Thu Dec 24, 2015 3:43 pm

NASA Suspends 2016 Launch of InSight Mission to Mars
NASA | JPL-Caltech | InSight | 2015 Dec 23

After thorough examination, NASA managers have decided to call off the planned March 2016 launch of the Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) mission. The decision follows unsuccessful attempts to repair a leak in a section of the prime instrument in the science payload. ...
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JPL: NASA Approves 2018 Launch of Mars InSight Mission

Post by bystander » Fri Sep 02, 2016 6:54 pm

NASA Approves 2018 Launch of Mars InSight Mission
NASA | JPL-Caltech | InSight | 2016 Sep 02
[img3="NASA has set a new launch opportunity, beginning May 5, 2018, for the InSight mission to Mars. InSight is the first mission dedicated to investigating the deep interior of Mars. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech"]http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/images/mars/ins ... 811-16.jpg[/img3][hr][/hr]
NASA is moving forward with a spring 2018 launch of its InSight mission to study the deep interior of Mars, following final approval this week by the agency's Science Mission Directorate.

The Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) mission was originally scheduled to launch in March of this year, but NASA suspended launch preparations in December due to a vacuum leak in its prime science instrument, the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS).

The new launch period for the mission begins May 5, 2018, with a Mars landing scheduled for Nov. 26, 2018. The next launch opportunity is driven by orbital dynamics, so 2018 is the soonest the lander can be on its way. ...

http://www.nasa.gov/insight
http://insight.jpl.nasa.gov/
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InSight to Investigate Interior of Red Planet

Post by bystander » Tue Aug 29, 2017 3:19 pm

NASA's Next Mars Mission to Investigate Interior of Red Planet
NASA | JPL-Caltech | 2017 Aug 28
[img3="This artist's concept from August 2015 depicts NASA's InSight Mars lander fully deployed for studying the deep interior of Mars. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech"]https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/images/insight ... 828-16.jpg[/img3][hr][/hr]
Preparation of NASA's next spacecraft to Mars, InSight, has ramped up this summer, on course for launch next May from Vandenberg Air Force Base in central California -- the first interplanetary launch in history from America's West Coast.

Lockheed Martin Space Systems is assembling and testing the InSight spacecraft in a clean room facility near Denver. "Our team resumed system-level integration and test activities last month," said Stu Spath, spacecraft program manager at Lockheed Martin. "The lander is completed and instruments have been integrated onto it so that we can complete the final spacecraft testing including acoustics, instrument deployments and thermal balance tests."

InSight is the first mission to focus on examining the deep interior of Mars. Information gathered will boost understanding of how all rocky planets formed, including Earth. ...
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'Marsquakes' Could Shake Up Planetary Science

Post by bystander » Fri Mar 30, 2018 2:39 pm

'Marsquakes' Could Shake Up Planetary Science
NASA | JPL-Caltech | InSIght | 2018 Mar 28
Click to play embedded YouTube video.
Starting next year, scientists will get their first look deep below the surface of Mars.

That's when NASA will send the first robotic lander dedicated to exploring the planet's subsurface. InSight, which stands for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, will study marsquakes to learn about the Martian crust, mantle and core.

Doing so could help answer a big question: how are planets born?

Seismology, the study of quakes, has already revealed some of the answers here on Earth, said Bruce Banerdt, Insight's principal investigator at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. But Earth has been churning its geologic record for billions of years, hiding its most ancient history. Mars, at half the size of Earth, churns far less: it's a fossil planet, preserving the history of its early birth. ...
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NASA is Ready to Study the Heart of Mars

Post by bystander » Fri Mar 30, 2018 2:47 pm

NASA is Ready to Study the Heart of Mars
NASA | JPL-Caltech | InSight | 2018 Mar 29
Click to play embedded YouTube video.
​​NASA is about to go on a journey to study the center of Mars. ...

InSight -- short for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport -- is a stationary lander scheduled to launch as early as May 5. It will be the first mission ever dedicated to Mars' deep interior, and the first NASA mission since the Apollo moon landings to place a seismometer on the soil of another planet. ...

Scientists hope that by detecting marsquakes and other phenomena inside the planet, InSight can better understand how Mars formed. InSight carries a suite of sensitive instruments to gather these data; unlike a rover mission, they require a spacecraft that sits still and carefully places its instruments on the Martian surface. ...

Looking deep into Mars will let scientists understand how different its crust, mantle and core are from their counterparts on Earth. In a sense, Mars is the exoplanet next door: a nearby example of how gas, dust and heat combine and arrange themselves into a planet. ...
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Countdown to First Interplanetary Launch from California

Post by bystander » Sat Apr 07, 2018 1:57 pm

Bound for Mars: Countdown to First Interplanetary Launch from California
NASA | JPL-Caltech | InSight | 2018 Apr 06
Click to play embedded YouTube video.
In the early morning hours of May 5, millions of Californians will have an opportunity to witness a sight they have never seen before - the historic first interplanetary launch from America's West Coast. On board the 189-foot-tall (57.3-meter) United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket will be NASA's InSight spacecraft, destined for the Elysium Planitia region located in Mars' northern hemisphere. The May 5 launch window for the InSight mission opens at 4:05 am PDT (7:05 EDT, 11:05 UTC) and remains open for two hours. ...

In clear skies, the InSight launch should be viewable up and down a wide swath of the California coast. Residents from as far north as Bakersfield to perhaps as far south as Rosarito, Mexico, may see the Atlas rocket rising in the predawn sky and then heading south, parallel to the coastline. ...

InSight's launch period is May 5 through June 8, 2018, with multiple launch opportunities over windows of approximately two hours each date. Launch opportunities are set five minutes apart during each date's window. ...
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JPL: Engineers Dream Big with Small Spacecraft

Post by bystander » Mon Apr 23, 2018 2:24 pm

NASA Engineers Dream Big with Small Spacecraft
NASA | JPL-Caltech | MarCO | 2018 Apr 19
Click to play embedded YouTube video.
Many of NASA's most iconic spacecraft towered over the engineers who built them: think Voyagers 1 and 2, Cassini or Galileo -- all large machines that could measure up to a school bus.

But in the past two decades, mini-satellites called CubeSats have made space accessible to a new generation. These briefcase-sized boxes are more focused in their abilities and have a fraction of the mass -- and cost -- of some past titans of space.

In May, engineers will be watching closely as NASA launches its first pair of CubeSats designed for deep space. The twin spacecraft are called Mars Cube One, or MarCO, and were built at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Both MarCO spacecraft will be hitching a ride on the same rocket launching InSight, NASA's next robotic lander headed for Mars. The MarCOs are intended to follow InSight on its cruise through space; if they survive the journey, each is equipped with a folding high-gain antenna to relay data about InSight as it enters the Martian atmosphere and lands.

The MarCOs won't produce any science of their own, and aren't required for InSight to send its data back home (the lander will rely on NASA's Mars orbiters for that, in addition to communicating directly with antennas on Earth). But the twins will be a crucial first test of CubeSat technology beyond Earth orbit, demonstrating how they could be used to further explore the solar system.
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NASA Sets Sights on May 5 Launch of InSight to Mars

Post by bystander » Sat Apr 28, 2018 2:07 pm

NASA Sets Sights on May 5 Launch of InSight to Mars
NASA | JPL-Caltech | InSight | 2018 Apr 28

NASA’s next mission to Mars, Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight), is scheduled to launch Saturday, May 5, on a first-ever mission to study the heart of the Red Planet. Coverage of prelaunch and launch activities begins Thursday, May 3, on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

InSight, the first planetary mission to take off from the West Coast, is targeted to launch at 4:05 a.m. PDT (7:05 a.m. EDT, 11:05 UTC) from Space Launch Complex-3 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket.

Launching on the same rocket is a separate NASA technology experiment known as Mars Cube One (MarCO). MarCO consists of two mini-spacecraft and will be the first test of CubeSat technology in deep space. They are designed to test new communications and navigation capabilities for future missions and may aid InSight communications. ...
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InSight Awaits May 5 Launch

Post by bystander » Fri May 04, 2018 1:47 pm

NASA's First Mission to Study the Interior of Mars Awaits May 5 Launch
NASA | JPL-Caltech | InSight | 2018 May 03

All systems are go for NASA's next launch to the Red Planet.


The early-morning liftoff on Saturday of the Mars InSight lander will mark the first time in history an interplanetary launch will originate from the West Coast. InSight will launch from the U.S. Air Force Vandenberg Air Force Base Space Launch Complex 3E. The two-hour launch window will open on May 5 at 4:05 a.m. PDT (7:05 a.m. EDT).

InSight, for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, will launch aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket. InSight will study the deep interior of Mars to learn how all rocky planets formed, including Earth and its Moon. The lander's instruments include a seismometer to detect marsquakes, and a probe that will monitor the flow of heat from the planet's interior.

The ULA rocket will carry the spacecraft over the Channel Islands just off the California Coast and continue climbing out over the Pacific, shadowing the coastline south beyond Baja California. InSight's Atlas will reach orbit about 13 minutes after launch, when the rocket is about 1,200 miles (1,900 kilometers) northwest of Isabella Island, Ecuador.
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NASA, ULA Launch Mission to Study How Mars Was Made

Post by bystander » Sun May 06, 2018 2:01 pm

NASA, ULA Launch Mission to Study How Mars Was Made
NASA | JPL-Caltech | InSight | 2018 May 05
Click to play embedded YouTube video.
Go, Atlas. Go, Centaur. Go, InSight! NASA's InSight mission launched from Vandenberg
AFB for Mars on May 5, 2018 — the first interplanetary launch from the West Coast.
(Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA's Mars Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) mission is on a 300-million-mile (483-million-kilometer) trip to Mars to study for the first time what lies deep beneath the surface of the Red Planet. InSight launched at 4:05 a.m. PDT (7:05 a.m. EDT) Saturday from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. ...

First reports indicate the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket that carried InSight into space was seen as far south as Carlsbad, California, and as far east as Oracle, Arizona. One person recorded video of the launch from a private aircraft flying along the California coast.

Riding the Centaur second stage of the rocket, the spacecraft reached orbit 13 minutes and 16 seconds after launch. Sixty-one minutes later, the Centaur ignited a second time, sending InSight on a trajectory toward the Red Planet. InSight separated from the Centaur about 9 minutes later -- 93 minutes after launch -- and contacted ground controllers via NASA's Deep Space Network at 5:41 a.m. PDT (8:41 a.m. EDT). ...

With its successful launch, NASA's InSight team now is focusing on the six-month voyage. During the cruise phase of the mission, engineers will check out the spacecraft's subsystems and science instruments, making sure its solar arrays and antenna are oriented properly, tracking its trajectory and performing maneuvers to keep it on course.

InSight is scheduled to land on the Red Planet around 3 p.m. EST (noon PST) Nov. 26, where it will conduct science operations until Nov. 24, 2020, which equates to one year and 40 days on Mars, or nearly two Earth years. ...
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NASA's First Deep-Space CubeSats Say: ‘Polo!’

Post by bystander » Sun May 06, 2018 2:06 pm

NASA's First Deep-Space CubeSats Say: ‘Polo!’
NASA | JPL-Caltech | MarCO | 2018 May 05
NASA has received radio signals indicating that the first-ever CubeSats headed to deep space are alive and well. The first signal was received at 12:15 p.m. PST (3:15 p.m. EST) today; the second at 1:58 p.m. PST (4:58 p.m. EST). Engineers will now be performing a series of checks before both CubeSats enter their cruise to deep space.

Mars Cube One, or MarCO, is a pair of briefcase-sized spacecraft that launched along with NASA's InSight Mars lander at 4:05 a.m. PDT (7:05 a.m. EDT) today from Vandenberg Air Force Base in Central California. InSight is a scientific mission that will probe the Red Planet's deep interior for the first time; the name stands for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport.

The twin MarCO CubeSats are on their own separate mission: rather than collecting science, they will follow the InSight lander on its cruise to Mars, testing out miniature spacecraft technology along the way.

Both were programmed to unfold their solar panels soon after launch, followed by several opportunities to radio back their health. ...
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MarCO: A Pale Blue Dot, As Seen by a CubeSat

Post by bystander » Wed May 16, 2018 1:30 pm

A Pale Blue Dot, As Seen by a CubeSat
NASA | JPL-Caltech | MarCO | 2018 May 15
Click to view full size image 1 or image 2
The first image captured by one of NASA's Mars Cube One (MarCO) CubeSats. The image,
which shows both the CubeSat's unfolded high-gain antenna at right and the Earth and
its moon in the center, was acquired by MarCO-B on May 9. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA's Voyager 1 took a classic portrait of Earth from several billion miles away in 1990. Now a class of tiny, boxy spacecraft, known as CubeSats, have just taken their own version of a "pale blue dot" image, capturing Earth and its moon in one shot.

NASA set a new distance record for CubeSats on May 8 when a pair of CubeSats called Mars Cube One (MarCO) reached 621,371 miles (1 million kilometers) from Earth. One of the CubeSats, called MarCO-B (and affectionately known as "Wall-E" to the MarCO team) used a fisheye camera to snap its first photo on May 9. That photo is part of the process used by the engineering team to confirm the spacecraft's high-gain antenna has properly unfolded.

As a bonus, it captured Earth and its moon as tiny specks floating in space.

"Consider it our homage to Voyager," said Andy Klesh, MarCO's chief engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. JPL built the CubeSats and leads the MarCO mission. "CubeSats have never gone this far into space before, so it's a big milestone. Both our CubeSats are healthy and functioning properly. We're looking forward to seeing them travel even farther." ...
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InSight Steers Toward Mars

Post by bystander » Fri May 25, 2018 2:57 pm

InSight Steers Toward Mars
NASA | JPL-Caltech | InSight | 2018 May 23

NASA's InSight lander has made its first course correction toward Mars.

InSight, short for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, is the first mission dedicated to exploring the deep interior of Mars.

The lander is currently encapsulated in a protective aeroshell, which launched on top of an Atlas V 401 rocket on May 5 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in Central California. Yesterday, the spacecraft fired its thrusters for the first time to change its flight path. This activity, called a trajectory correction maneuver, will happen a maximum of six times to guide the lander to Mars.

Every launch starts with a rocket. That's necessary to get a spacecraft out past Earth's gravity -- but rockets don't complete the journey to other planets. Before launch, every piece of hardware headed to Mars is cleaned, limiting the number of Earth microbes that might travel on the spacecraft. However, the rocket and its upper stage, called a Centaur, don't get the same special treatment.

As a result, Mars launches involve aiming the rocket just off-target so that it flies off into space. Separately, the spacecraft performs a series of trajectory correction maneuvers guiding it to the Red Planet. This makes sure that only the clean spacecraft lands on the planet, while the upper stage does not come close.

Precise calculations are required for InSight to arrive at exactly the right spot in Mars' atmosphere at exactly the right time, resulting in a landing on Nov. 26. Every step of the way, a team of navigators estimates the position and velocity of the spacecraft. Then they design maneuvers to deliver it to an entry point at Mars. That navigation team is based at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, which leads the InSight mission. ...
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NASA CubeSats Steer Toward Mars

Post by bystander » Sat Jun 02, 2018 2:41 pm

NASA CubeSats Steer Toward Mars
NASA | JPL-Caltech | MarCO | 2018 Jun 01

NASA has achieved a first for the class of tiny spacecraft known as CubeSats, which are opening new access to space.

Over the past week, two CubeSats called MarCO-A and MarCO-B have been firing their propulsion systems to guide themselves toward Mars. This process, called a trajectory correction maneuver, allows a spacecraft to refine its path to Mars following launch. Both CubeSats successfully completed this maneuver; NASA's InSight spacecraft just completed the same process on May 22.

The pair of CubeSats that make up the Mars Cube One (MarCO) mission both launched on May 5, along with the InSight lander, which is headed toward a Nov. 26 touchdown on the Red Planet. They were designed to trail InSight on the way to Mars, aiming to relay back data about InSight as it enters the planet's atmosphere and attempts to land. The MarCOs were never intended to collect any science data; instead, they are a test of miniaturized communication and navigation technology that can blaze a path for future CubeSats sent to other planets.

Both MarCO-A and B successfully completed a set of communications tests in the past couple of weeks, said John Baker, program manager for planetary SmallSats at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. JPL built both MarCO CubeSats and leads the mission. ...
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