InSight Landed Tilted into a Large Sandbox

As the dust caused by the landing of the InSIght on Mars on November 27 has settled, NASA is now able to tell the world more about the status of the spacecraft.
NASA InSight photo from Mars 1 photo
Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech
After analyzing the data coming from Mars, NASA engineers announced at the end of last week that the spacecraft touched down in the designated area, a lava plain they call Elysium Planitia.

InSIght is however not perfectly upright, as a slight tilt of four degrees was detected by those looking into the status of lander. Although the reason for this tilt is not entirely known, NASA says it should not prevent the machine from performing its tasks successfully, as it has been designed to operate on a surface with an inclination up to 15 degrees.

After analyzing the few initial images sent back by InSight, the team operating it is confident the site is mostly rock-free, meaning operations should be conducted without problems. Should rocks have been present, they could have prevented the lander to properly operate its instruments.

Over the coming few days, more will be learned about the location InSight is currently in, as several other high-resolution images are expected to be beamed down from Mars to Earth.

"We are looking forward to higher-definition pictures to confirm this preliminary assessment," said in a statement JPL's Bruce Banerdt, principal investigator of InSight.

"If these few images - with resolution-reducing dust covers on - are accurate, it bodes well for both instrument deployment and the mole penetration of our subsurface heat-flow experiment."

InSight was sent to Mars to look for quakes, perturbations of Mars' rotation axis, information about the planet's core or the amount of heat escaping from underneath. It will do so by using both sensors placed under the surface by digging 10 to 16 feet (3 to 5 meters) holes into the Martian surface
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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