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Yesterday, NASA’s Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) lander reached Mars after a seven months journey. NASA broadcast the landing live, showing the mission control team eagerly watching as the spacecraft entered the Martian atmosphere and began the nail-biting entry, descent and landing (EDL) process.
At exactly 11:52:29 am PST (2:52:59 pm EST) mission controllers received a signal via the Mars Cube One (MarCO) satellites that the lander had successfully touched down. About a minute later, InSight began to conduct surface operations, which involved the deployment of its solar arrays and prepping its instruments for research.
Process - Minutes - Lander - Minutes - Prior
This process commenced 16 minutes after the lander touched down, and took another 16 minutes to complete. Prior to this, the lander was running off of its battery the entire time it was on the surface. This battery is capable of powering the lander for up to 16 hours, but the solar arrays are necessary if the mission is to have any longevity.
While it took only about a half hour between InSight touching down and deploying its solar arrays, mission controllers were forced to wait for five and half hours to receive confirmation. This came at about 5:30 p.m. PST (8:30 p.m. EST) when the Mars Odyssey mission (which was orbiting Mars at the time) relayed the signals. As Tom Hoffman, InSight’s project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in a NASA press release:
InSight - Team - Tonight - Spacecraft - Solar
“The InSight team can rest a little easier tonight now that we know the spacecraft solar arrays are deployed and recharging the batteries. It’s been a long day for the team. But tomorrow begins an exciting new chapter for InSight: surface operations and the beginning of the instrument deployment phase.”
InSight’s twin solar arrays, which are modeled on those used by NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander, each measure 2.2. m...
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