The InSight mission has three main objectives: deploy French-British seismometers to measure any potential "Marsquakes"; activate a German "mole" which will burrow 16.4 feet (five meters) down to take temperature readings from the planet: and a third experiment will use radio waves to determine how Mars is wobbling on its axis.
"Having successfully brought all the data back from InSight during its exciting entry, descent and landing (EDL) sequence - what you see before you is an image taken roughly 4,700 miles from Mars, about 10-15 minutes after EDL itself", explained MarCO chief engineer Andy Klesh. On clear days, the panels will provide InSight with between 600 and 700 watts - enough to power the blender on your kitchen counter, NASA said. Verification will come from NASA's Odyssey spacecraft, now orbiting Mars. The network got the first photos and videos of the landing apparatus. These changes will ensure that operations are supported for one full Mars year which translates in two Earth years.
InSight will operate on the surface for one Martian year, plus 40 Martian days, or sols, until November 24, 2020.
Anyway, NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter relayed signals that the lander has been able to successfully deploy its solar panels after it landed on the Red Planet.
"That's one giant leap for our intrepid, briefcase-sized robotic explorers", said Joel Krajewski, MarCOproject manager at JPL. "I think there's a lot of surprises left to be discovered".
In this week's episode of Watch This Space, we take a look at what went into getting InSight onto the Martian surface.
The two CubeSats that are now orbiting around Mars are nicknamed Wall-E and Eva, because they both use a compressed gas commonly found in fire extinguishers to push themselves through, just like the character from a 2008 Pixar animation. "The experimental MarCO CubeSats have also opened a new door to smaller planetary spacecraft".
Two NASA mission controllers who worked on the InSight immediately began a complicated, elaborate handshake that has gone viral.
JPL manages InSight for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. "During that short span of time, InSight had to autonomously perform dozens of operations and do them flawlessly-and by all indications that is exactly what our spacecraft did", Hoffman was quoted in the release. DLR provided the HP3 instrument, with significant contributions from the Space Research Center (CBK) of the Polish Academy of Sciences and Astronika in Poland.