For decades, we’ve been launching equipment at Mars to get a better look at our closest and most similar neighbor. In November of 2018, NASA’s newest lander, InSight touched down on the Martian surface and sent home its first photos.
Mars currently has two active rovers on its surface and one that NASA scientists hope will be active again soon. InSight will be joining the trio, though it is destined to stay put where it landed. Together, the robots will gather a wide selection of data about the Red Planet.
Like the other crafts on Mars, InSight is equipped with cameras. In this case, its photographic equipment is set to capture a 45-degree panoramic view of the planet’s surface in full color. NASA didn’t send InSight all that way just to take pretty photos. It has an important job to do.
InSight’s job on Mars is a unique one. It is equipped with seismic sensors and measuring equipment that will allow it to study what’s going on beneath the surface of the Red Planet. The lander is situated in the Elysium Planitia, which is also where Curiosity is currently wandering around.
By measuring seismic activity on Mars, NASA scientists can learn more about what sort of action is going on in the planet’s mantle. Additionally, if there is any ongoing tectonic activity on the surface, InSight might be able to give us some insight into that.
A finite mission
Like all data-gathering craft on Mars, InSight’s job does have an end date. However, as the other robots have demonstrated, just because there’s a date set for the end of the mission doesn’t mean the excitement necessarily stops there.
InSight is scheduled to collect data for two years, though scientists expect it to continue its mission past that mark. Most of the other robots worked on well past their scheduled end date, and InSight is tentatively anticipated to do the same. So far, so good!