InSight Sister Lander ForeSight Works in Mock-Up Mars Environment at JPL

A piece of Mars recreated at JPL 1 photo
Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/IPGP
As the NASA InSight lander is getting ready to begin operations at its Martian workplace, back on Earth a team of dedicated scientists created a piece of the Red Planet of their own to see how it will all work.
Ever since landing on Mars, InSight has been sending to Earth images and data about the area it currently lies in, so NASA brainiacs have a pretty good idea of how it all looks, feels and is shaped.

Using this data, NASA created a mock-up part of the InSight Martian surroundings at JPL’s Pasadena facility using raked, shoveled and patted down crushed garnet. In this makeshift part of Mars, a lander identical to the InSight will be performing identical tasks, even before the machine on Mars does them.

The sister lander of the InSight is called ForeSight and is used to practice the placement of instruments so that NASA knows in advance the challenges the InSight will be facing on Mars.

"All around us, there are rocks that were ejected from nearby craters. These can be launched miles across the landscape, depending on the impact size," said in a statement Nate Williams, a JPL post-doctoral researcher working with the mission.

"Thankfully, there just aren't a lot of rocks right in front of us."

Back on Mars, InSight is currently in the final stages of testing its instruments before getting to work. The lander will look for quakes and perturbations of Mars' rotation axis, and also to gather information about the planet's core, including the amount of heat escaping from underneath.

For these task, it will use sensors placed under the surface of the planet, after digging 10 to 16 feet (3 to 5 meters) holes into the Martian soil.

It will be the first time humans have tried to look beneath the surface on Mars.

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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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