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  • richardmitnick 10:35 am on June 5, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , NASA InSight mission, the self-hammering "mole"   

    From JPL-Caltech: “InSight’s Team Tries New Strategy to Help the ‘Mole'” 

    NASA JPL Banner

    From JPL-Caltech

    June 5, 2019

    Andrew Good
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    818-393-2433
    andrew.c.good@jpl.nasa.gov

    Alana Johnson
    NASA Headquarters, Washington
    202-358-1501
    alana.r.johnson@nasa.gov

    NASA/Mars InSight Lander

    1
    Engineers in a Mars-like test area at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory try possible strategies to aid the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3) on NASA’s InSight lander, using engineering models of the lander, robotic arm and instrument.

    In this image, the model’s robotic arm is lifting up part of HP3 to expose the self-hammering mole that is partially embedded in the testbed soil. Standing mid-ground are engineers Ashitey Trebi-Ollennu (left) and Troy Lee Hudson (right). Lights in the testbed intended to simulate Mars’ lighting conditions give the image an orange tint. Engineers at the German Aerospace Center (DLR), which provided HP3, have also been working on strategies to help the probe.

    A number of European partners, including France’s Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES) and the German Aerospace Center (DLR), are supporting the InSight mission. CNES provided the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS) instrument to NASA, with the principal investigator at IPGP (Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris). Significant contributions for SEIS came from IPGP; the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS) in Germany; the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich) in Switzerland; Imperial College London and Oxford University in the United Kingdom; and JPL. DLR provided the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3) instrument, with significant contributions from the Space Research Center (CBK) of the Polish Academy of Sciences and Astronika in Poland. Spain’s Centro de Astrobiología (CAB) supplied the temperature and wind sensors.

    For more information about the mission, go to https://mars.nasa.gov/insight.

    Scientists and engineers have a new plan for getting NASA InSight’s heat probe, also known as the “mole,” digging again on Mars. Part of an instrument called the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3), the mole is a self-hammering spike designed to dig as much as 16 feet (5 meters) below the surface and record temperature.

    But the mole hasn’t been able to dig deeper than about 12 inches (30 centimeters) below the Martian surface since Feb. 28, 2019. The device’s support structure blocks the lander’s cameras from viewing the mole, so the team plans to use InSight’s robotic arm to lift the structure out of the way. Depending on what they see, the team might use InSight’s robotic arm to help the mole further later this summer.

    HP3 is one of InSight’s several experiments, all of which are designed to give scientists their first look at the deep interior of the Red Planet. InSight also includes a seismometer that recently recorded its first marsquake on April 6, 2019, followed by its largest seismic signal to date at 7:23 p.m. PDT (10:23 EDT) on May 22, 2019 – what is believed to be a marsquake of magnitude 3.0.

    For the last several months, testing and analysis have been conducted at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, which leads the InSight mission, and the German Aerospace Center (DLR), which provided HP3, to understand what is preventing the mole from digging. Team members now believe the most likely cause is an unexpected lack of friction in the soil around InSight – something very different from soil seen on other parts of Mars. The mole is designed so that loose soil flows around it, adding friction that works against its recoil, allowing it to dig. Without enough friction, it will bounce in place.

    “Engineers at JPL and DLR have been working hard to assess the problem,” said Lori Glaze, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division. “Moving the support structure will help them gather more information and try at least one possible solution.”

    The lifting sequence will begin in late June, with the arm grasping the support structure (InSight conducted some test movements recently). Over the course of a week, the arm will lift the structure in three steps, taking images and returning them so that engineers can make sure the mole isn’t being pulled out of the ground while the structure is moved. If removed from the soil, the mole can’t go back in.

    The procedure is not without risk. However, mission managers have determined that these next steps are necessary to get the instrument working again.

    “Moving the support structure will give the team a better idea of what’s happening. But it could also let us test a possible solution,” said HP3 Principal Investigator Tilman Spohn of DLR. “We plan to use InSight’s robotic arm to press on the ground. Our calculations have shown this should add friction to the soil near the mole.”

    A Q & A with team members about the mole and the effort to save it is at:

    https://mars.nasa.gov/news/8444/common-questions-about-insights-mole/?site=insight

    See the full article here .


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    NASA JPL Campus

    Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)) is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States. Although the facility has a Pasadena postal address, it is actually headquartered in the city of La Cañada Flintridge, on the northwest border of Pasadena. JPL is managed by the nearby California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Laboratory’s primary function is the construction and operation of robotic planetary spacecraft, though it also conducts Earth-orbit and astronomy missions. It is also responsible for operating NASA’s Deep Space Network.

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  • richardmitnick 1:17 pm on May 6, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Before and after selfies reveals dust in the misson, , , NASA InSight mission, , The same winds that blanket Mars with dust can also blow that dust away.   

    From JPL-Caltech: “For InSight, Dust Cleanings Will Yield New Science” 

    NASA JPL Banner

    From JPL-Caltech

    May 6, 2019

    Andrew Good
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    818-393-2433
    andrew.c.good@jpl.nasa.gov

    1
    This is NASA InSight’s second full selfie on Mars. Since taking its first selfie, the lander has removed its heat probe and seismometer from its deck, placing them on the Martian surface; a thin coating of dust now covers the spacecraft as well. NASA/JPL-Caltech

    2
    InSight’s first selfie. NASA/JPL-Caltech

    This selfie is a mosaic made up of 14 images taken on March 15 and April 11 – the 106th and 133rd Martian days, or sols, of the mission – by InSight’s Instrument Deployment Camera, located on its robotic arm.

    InSight’s first selfie showed its instruments still on the deck. Now that they’re removed, the viewer can see the spacecraft’s air pressure sensor (white object in center), the tether box for its seismometer and the tether for its heat probe running across the deck. Also visible is its robotic arm and grapple.

    JPL manages InSight for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. InSight is part of NASA’s Discovery Program, managed by the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Lockheed Martin Space in Denver built the InSight spacecraft, including its cruise stage and lander, and supports spacecraft operations for the mission.

    A number of European partners, including France’s Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES) and the German Aerospace Center (DLR), are supporting the InSight mission. CNES provided the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS) instrument to NASA, with the principal investigator at IPGP (Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris). Significant contributions for SEIS came from IPGP; the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS) in Germany; the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich) in Switzerland; Imperial College London and Oxford University in the United Kingdom; and JPL. DLR provided the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3) instrument, with significant contributions from the Space Research Center (CBK) of the Polish Academy of Sciences and Astronika in Poland. Spain’s Centro de Astrobiología (CAB) supplied the temperature and wind sensors.

    The same winds that blanket Mars with dust can also blow that dust away. Catastrophic dust storms have the potential to end a mission, as with NASA’s Opportunity rover. But far more often, passing winds cleared off the rover’s solar panels and gave it an energy boost. Those dust clearings allowed Opportunity and its sister rover, Spirit, to survive for years beyond their 90-day expiration dates.

    Dust clearings are also expected for Mars’ newest inhabitant, the InSight lander. Because of the spacecraft’s weather sensors, each clearing can provide crucial science data on these events, as well – and the mission already has a glimpse at that.

    On Feb. 1, the 65th Martian day, or sol, of the mission, InSight detected a passing wind vortex (also known as a dust devil if it picks up dust and becomes visible; InSight’s cameras didn’t catch the vortex in this case). At the same time, the lander’s two large solar panels experienced very small bumps in power – about 0.7% on one panel and 2.7% on the other – suggesting a tiny amount of dust was lifted.

    For more information about InSight, visit:

    https://mars.nasa.gov/insight/

    For more information about Mars, visit:

    https://mars.nasa.gov

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    NASA JPL Campus

    Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)) is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States. Although the facility has a Pasadena postal address, it is actually headquartered in the city of La Cañada Flintridge, on the northwest border of Pasadena. JPL is managed by the nearby California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Laboratory’s primary function is the construction and operation of robotic planetary spacecraft, though it also conducts Earth-orbit and astronomy missions. It is also responsible for operating NASA’s Deep Space Network.

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  • richardmitnick 9:07 am on April 24, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , NASA InSight mission,   

    From JPL-Caltech: “NASA’s InSight Lander Captures Audio of First Likely ‘Quake’ on Mars” 

    NASA JPL Banner

    From JPL-Caltech

    April 23, 2019

    Andrew Good
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    818-393-2433
    andrew.c.good@jpl.nasa.gov

    Dwayne Brown
    Headquarters, Washington
    202-358-1726
    dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov

    Alana Johnson
    Headquarters, Washington
    202-358-1501
    alana.r.johnson@nasa.gov

    NASA’s Mars InSight lander has measured and recorded for the first time ever a likely “marsquake.”

    NASA/Mars InSight Lander

    The faint seismic signal, detected by the lander’s Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS) instrument, was recorded on April 6, the lander’s 128th Martian day, or sol. This is the first recorded trembling that appears to have come from inside the planet, as opposed to being caused by forces above the surface, such as wind. Scientists still are examining the data to determine the exact cause of the signal.

    2
    This image, taken March 19, 2019 by a camera on NASA’s Mars InSight lander, shows the rover’s domed Wind and Thermal Shield, which covers its seismometer, the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure, and the Martian surface in the background. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech


    This video and audio illustrates a seismic event detected by NASA’s Mars InSight rover on April 6, 2019, the 128th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. Three distinct kinds of sounds can be heard, all of them detected as ground vibrations by the spacecraft’s seismometer, called the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS): noise from Martian wind, the seismic event itself, and the spacecraft’s robotic arm as it moves to take pictures. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/CNES/IPGP/Imperial College London

    “InSight’s first readings carry on the science that began with NASA’s Apollo missions,” said InSight Principal Investigator Bruce Banerdt of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. “We’ve been collecting background noise up until now, but this first event officially kicks off a new field: Martian seismology!”

    The new seismic event was too small to provide solid data on the Martian interior, which is one of InSight’s main objectives. The Martian surface is extremely quiet, allowing SEIS, InSight’s specially designed seismometer, to pick up faint rumbles. In contrast, Earth’s surface is quivering constantly from seismic noise created by oceans and weather. An event of this size in Southern California would be lost among dozens of tiny crackles that occur every day.

    “The Martian Sol 128 event is exciting because its size and longer duration fit the profile of moonquakes detected on the lunar surface during the Apollo missions,” said Lori Glaze, Planetary Science Division director at NASA Headquarters.

    NASA’s Apollo astronauts installed five seismometers that measured thousands of quakes while operating on the Moon between 1969 and 1977, revealing seismic activity on the Moon. Different materials can change the speed of seismic waves or reflect them, allowing scientists to use these waves to learn about the interior of the Moon and model its formation. NASA currently is planning to return astronauts to the Moon by 2024, laying the foundation that will eventually enable human exploration of Mars.

    InSight’s seismometer, which the lander placed on the planet’s surface on Dec. 19, 2018, will enable scientists to gather similar data about Mars. By studying the deep interior of Mars, they hope to learn how other rocky worlds, including Earth and the Moon, formed.

    3
    This set of images from the Instrument Deployment Camera shows NASA’s InSight lander placing its first instrument onto the surface of Mars, completing a major mission milestone. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

    Three other seismic signals occurred on March 14 (Sol 105), April 10 (Sol 132) and April 11 (Sol 133). Detected by SEIS’ more sensitive Very Broad Band sensors, these signals were even smaller than the Sol 128 event and more ambiguous in origin. The team will continue to study these events to try to determine their cause.

    Regardless of its cause, the Sol 128 signal is an exciting milestone for the team.

    “We’ve been waiting months for a signal like this,” said Philippe Lognonné, SEIS team lead at the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (IPGP) in France. “It’s so exciting to finally have proof that Mars is still seismically active. We’re looking forward to sharing detailed results once we’ve had a chance to analyze them.”

    Most people are familiar with quakes on Earth, which occur on faults created by the motion of tectonic plates. Mars and the Moon do not have tectonic plates, but they still experience quakes – in their cases, caused by a continual process of cooling and contraction that creates stress. This stress builds over time, until it is strong enough to break the crust, causing a quake.

    Detecting these tiny quakes required a huge feat of engineering. On Earth, high-quality seismometers often are sealed in underground vaults to isolate them from changes in temperature and weather. InSight’s instrument has several ingenious insulating barriers, including a cover built by JPL called the Wind and Thermal Shield, to protect it from the planet’s extreme temperature changes and high winds.

    SEIS has surpassed the team’s expectations in terms of its sensitivity. The instrument was provided for InSight by the French space agency, Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES), while these first seismic events were identified by InSight’s Marsquake Service team, led by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.

    “We are delighted about this first achievement and are eager to make many similar measurements with SEIS in the years to come,” said Charles Yana, SEIS mission operations manager at CNES.

    JPL manages InSight for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. InSight is part of NASA’s Discovery Program, managed by the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Lockheed Martin Space in Denver built the InSight spacecraft, including its cruise stage and lander, and supports spacecraft operations for the mission.

    A number of European partners, including CNES and the German Aerospace Center (DLR), support the InSight mission. CNES provided the SEIS instrument to NASA, with the principal investigator at IPGP. Significant contributions for SEIS came from IPGP; the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Germany; the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich) in Switzerland; Imperial College London and Oxford University in the United Kingdom; and JPL. DLR provided the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3) instrument, with significant contributions from the Space Research Center of the Polish Academy of Sciences and Astronika in Poland. Spain’s Centro de Astrobiología supplied the temperature and wind sensors.

    For more information about InSight, visit:

    https://www.nasa.gov/insight

    For more information about the agency’s Moon to Mars activities, visit

    https://www.nasa.gov/topics/moon-to-mars

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    NASA JPL Campus

    Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)) is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States. Although the facility has a Pasadena postal address, it is actually headquartered in the city of La Cañada Flintridge, on the northwest border of Pasadena. JPL is managed by the nearby California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Laboratory’s primary function is the construction and operation of robotic planetary spacecraft, though it also conducts Earth-orbit and astronomy missions. It is also responsible for operating NASA’s Deep Space Network.

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  • richardmitnick 1:40 pm on November 27, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , NASA InSight mission, NASA’s InSight Lander Is Already Snapping Amazing Pictures of Mars   

    From Motherboard: “NASA’s InSight Lander Is Already Snapping Amazing Pictures of Mars” 

    motherboard

    From Motherboard

    Nov 27 2018
    Becky Ferreira

    On its first sol on the red planet, the mission sent home images of a dusty landscape, a lander selfie, and a wide shot of Mars from space.

    1
    NASA’s InSight lander takes its first selfie on November 26, 2018. Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

    Shortly after it successfully touched down on Mars on Monday, NASA’s InSight lander took a selfie showing off its new home in the Elysium Planitia region. The picture was taken by the mission’s Instrument Deployment Camera (IDC), mounted on the lander’s robotic arm, and captures the upper deck of InSight’s instrument package, against a backdrop of flat Martian terrain.

    Though it was InSight’s first selfie on the red planet, it was not the first picture the lander sent back to Earth. Just minutes after its nail-biting touchdown, InSight sent a quick landscape shot home to the mission control team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

    2
    This image was taken with the Instrument Context Camera (ICC), which is attached directly to the lander’s deck and provides a wide-angle fisheye view of the landscape. The ICC lens is speckled with dust kicked up by the retrorockets that guided the craft safely down to its landing site.

    But the lander wasn’t the only mission component busy snapping exhilarating new pictures of Mars. Perhaps the most groundbreaking snapshot came from MarCO-B, a trailblazing satellite that imaged Mars during its flyby at a distance of about 3,700 miles (6,000 kilometers).

    5

    JPL Cubesat MarCO Mars Cube

    MarCO-B, along with its twin MarCO-A—nicknamed “Wall-E” and “EVE” respectively—are both CubeSats, a class of miniaturized cubic satellite introduced to reduce the cost of spaceflight. Hundreds of CubeSats have been deployed in low Earth orbit, but the MarCO satellites are the first to voyage into deep space.

    The CubeSats are about the size of a shoebox, and were launched with the InSight lander back in May, before separating from the main spacecraft to pursue their own trajectories to Mars. Just a few days into the trip, MarCO-B took this picture of Earth with its wide field camera.

    The MarCO satellites were not essential for the mission, and were bundled into InSight to test out CubeSat performance in deep space. Their successful communications performance and the dazzling shots bode well for the use of CubeSats in interplanetary missions.

    Given how many fascinating visuals InSight has sent home on its very first sol on Mars, it seems like the mission is already paying off. No doubt the lander will produce many more stunning pictures—not to mention tantalizing data about Mars’ interior—in the years to come.

    See the full article here .

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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The future is wonderful, the future is terrifying. We should know, we live there. Whether on the ground or on the web, Motherboard travels the world to uncover the tech and science stories that define what’s coming next for this quickly-evolving planet of ours.

    Motherboard is a multi-platform, multimedia publication, relying on longform reporting, in-depth blogging, and video and film production to ensure every story is presented in its most gripping and relatable format. Beyond that, we are dedicated to bringing our audience honest portraits of the futures we face, so you can be better informed in your decision-making today.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:24 am on November 27, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , NASA InSight mission   

    From European Space Agency: ” Elysium Planitia” 

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    From European Space Agency

    1
    Elysium Planitia 29 February 2016 labeled

    At just before 9pm Central European Time on 26 November, Mars received a new visitor: NASA’s InSight lander.

    NASA/Mars InSight Lander

    Short for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, InSight will be the first Mars mission dedicated to studying the planet’s interior, including sensing Mars quakes. Learning about the interior of the planet will inform scientists about the early formation of the rocky planets in our own Solar System, as well as the evolution of exoplanets orbiting other stars.

    Since InSight’s study is focused on sensing the planet’s interior, surface geology is not such an important factor in deciding the landing site as it is for other missions. Therefore, it is targeting a flat, stable surface in the Elysium Planitia region, which is captured in this wide field view from ESA’s Mars Express Visual Monitoring Camera taken on 29 February 2016 (click here for a labelled view).

    InSight will target a landing site centred at 4.5ºN/135.9ºE, about 600 km from Gale Crater, the region that NASA’s Curiosity rover is exploring.

    In the image shown here, Elysium Planitia is located roughly between the dark features at the bottom right (which includes Gale Crater), and the brighter arc-shaped feature above, to the right of the centre of the image, which is the location of volcano Elysium Mons. The north polar ice cap is seen at the top of the image.

    ESA has already been supporting InSight’s mission with its ground station network throughout the cruise to Mars, following the mission’s launch in May 2018. The joint ESA-Roscosmos Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) of the ExoMars mission, which arrived at Mars in October 2016, is ready to support data relay from InSight several times per day once it has landed safely, as required. Mars Express will also be prepared to support, on NASA’s request, ad hoc relay contacts with InSight in case of emergency needs.

    TGO will also act as a data relay for the ExoMars rover mission in 2021, for which the landing site was recommended earlier this month as Oxia Planum. A region that is thought to have hosted vast volumes of water in the past, it is an ideal location to search for clues that may help reveal the presence of past life on Mars.

    NASA also just announced the landing site for its Mars 2020 rover, which is set to explore an ancient river delta in Jezero Crater.

    NASA Mars Rover 2020 NASA

    Moreover, the rover will collect rock and soil samples and store them in a cache on the planet’s surface. NASA and ESA are studying future mission concepts to retrieve the samples and return them to Earth, setting the stage for the next decade of Mars exploration.

    More information about InSight and how to follow the landing: https://mars.nasa.gov/insight/

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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