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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” 

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    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.

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    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.

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    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).

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    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 .


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    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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