The InSight spacecraft is encapsulated in an aeroshell for protection as it cruises onwards to Mars. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
NASA’s InSight spacecraft, en route to a 26 November 2018 landing on Mars, passed the halfway mark on 6 August 2018. All of its instruments have been tested and are working well. As of 20 August 2018, the spacecraft had covered 277 million kilometres (172 million miles) since its launch 107 days ago. In another 98 days, it will travel another 208 million kilometres (129 million miles) and touch down in Mars’ Elysium Planitia region, where it will be the first mission to study the Red Planet’s deep interior. InSight stands for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport.
The InSight team is using the time before the spacecraft’s arrival at Mars to not only plan and practice for that critical day, but also to activate and check spacecraft subsystems vital to cruise, landing and surface operations, including the highly sensitive science instruments.
InSight’s seismometer, which will be used to detect quakes on Mars, received a clean bill of health on 19 July 2018. The SEIS instrument (Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure) is a six-sensor seismometer combining two types ...