NASA InSight Lander Deployed First Experiment to Listen For ‘Marsquakes’

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The new NASA Mars lander called InSight is ready to gather some ‘insight’ on Mars’ secrets. For now, it has achieved some first times, one of them being the lowering of an experiment on the Martian surface by a robotic arm.

InSight landed a month ago, and it has just placed the bell-shaped seismometer on the ground. The sensors in the seismometer were developed in France and the UK. The seismometer will listen to quakes on Mars – also known as “Marsquakes.” Reading the quakes will help scientists determine Mars’ internal structure.

On their Twitter page, the team behind NASA InSight posted the following message and a GIF showing the robotic arm in action:

“Whew – winding down after a long day, but I’ve done it: I’ve placed my seismometer on the surface of Mars! With SEIS, I’ll be able to listen in for marsquakes and help reveal the heartbeat of #Mars.”

According to Tom Hoffman, this milestone is “an awesome Christmas present.”

SEIS – as Important as Landing InSight on Mars

The robotic arm will again start working next month to add a wind cover over the seismometer and place another experiment on the ground. The experiment is a heat probe also called a mole, which should burrow up to 16 feet (five meters) into the surface. The lander also contains a sensitive radio experiment that will measure the way the planet wobbles on the axis.

InSight Principal Investigator Bruce Banerdt explained that “seismometer deployment is as important as landing InSight on Mars.”

The data gathered by the probe will reveal all the rock layers under the surface of the Red Planet, right to the core. All this information will be compared with the one we have on Earth.

The instruments will need a few weeks to be deployed. The seismometer needs the wind cover before it begins its job because it has to be protected from the noise made by the wind and temperature swings.

Banerdt concluded that “the seismometer is the highest-priority instrument on InSight: We need it in order to complete about three-quarters of our science objectives.”

Doris’s passion for writing started to take shape in college where she was editor-in-chief of the college newspaper. Even though she ended up working in IT for more than 7 years, she’s now back to what he always enjoyed doing. With a true passion for technology, Doris mostly covers tech-related topics.