“Touchdown confirmed!” After this simple transmission was broadcast live over NASA TV, the control room at NASA’s Jet Propulsion laboratory erupted in applause, hugs, and scientists fist bumping. On Monday, November 26th, 2018, NASA’s Insight Lander successfully landed on Mars with the mission of exploring the planet’s interior.
A few hours after landing, scientists still didn’t know the full state of the vehicle, but the lander sent its first communications back to Earth in a so-far best case scenario that its instruments are in working order. InSight has even already posted its first photo on Twitter. So why is the successful landing of InSight so interesting and what will we learn from the mission?
We?Ve landed complicated (and highly-priced) spacecraft on Mars numerous instances now so the a hit arrival of InSight at the purple planet might also appear to be old hat by way of now but I guarantee you, it’s far a completely large deal.
For starters, InSight traveled 301 million miles after being launched 205 days ago from the west coast of the United States on the Atlas V rocket. The spacecraft approached Mars at a speed of roughly 13,000 miles per hour before having to decelerate on its approach to the red planet to 1,000 miles per hour (a change in 12Gs in 2 minutes). In the process, the heat shield reached temperatures higher than 2700 degrees F, hot enough to melt steel.
The spacecraft also had to enter the Martian atmosphere at just the right angle of 12 degrees. Too much steeper and temperatures would have been too hot for the spacecraft’s survival. Too much shallower and the spacecraft would have bounced off the atmosphere and headed back out to space.
On approach all of the touchdown tools had to paintings and work together. The parachute had to deploy, little explosions blew off the heat defend, and the craft?S legs had to pop out as soon as the spacecraft?S radar detected the floor become 1 kilometer away. Finally, retroboosters came to existence to sluggish the lander to five miles per hour before it plunked down onto the surface of the planet. Twelve engines labored to preserve the lander going at a steady pace because it approached the floor in hopes that none of the device was too badly bruised inside the final jolt at touchdown.
Of 43 missions to Mars, only 18 have made it. NASA crashed a craft into the Martian south pole in 1999, only a year after the Mars Climate…