NASA InSight Lander Takes a Selfie in Space

Long-exposure selfie on the InSight backshell interior 1 photo
Photo: NASA
One hundred eight days and 172 million miles (277 million kilometers) have passed since NASA's InSight Lander mission departed Earth and began its hourney to Mars. The spacecraft, as well as its instruments, are in perfect shape, initial tests show.
NASA said on Monday that all of the ship's instruments have been tested and are working well. And to prove it, the spacecraft was asked to take a selfie of the inside of the spacecraft's backshell.

InSight, an acronym for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, is meant to study Mars' deep interior using seismology and other geophysical measurements, including a heat-flow probe.

This will be the first time humanity has tried to look under the surface on Mars, trying to detect quakes on the planet. InSight will be doing this with the help of the SEIS instrument (Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure), a tool equipped with six sensors to measure the ground motions over a wide range of frequencies.

Another tool, RISE (Rotation and Interior Structure Experiment), will use the spacecraft's radio connection with Earth to assess perturbations of Mars' rotation axis, providing information about the planet's core.

The HP3, or Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package, will be used to dig 10 to 16 feet (3 to 5 meters) holes into the Martian surface and place sensors in them to determine the amount of heat escaping from the planet's interior.

All of the instruments will begin operation 97 days from now, when the Insight will be landing in the Elysium Planitia region.

InSight was built back in 2010 and was initially planned to travel to Mars in 2016. Because of a failure to one of the instruments, the launch was canceled.

Accompanying it on its mission is a pair of CubeSat satellites, tasked with tracking and observing the spacecraft movement through space and its final descent to 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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