It's familiar It's hard to drink Mars, but NASA led it only with the recent InSight platform. From childhood, I'm in love with the landing and other maneuvers of the spacecraft on the TV – I always felt a little bit of this miraculous excitement. But it was not prepared for the feeling that I was looking at a mission I had worked on. Each silence in the seven-minute InSight landing seemed like eternity, with time reoccurring only during system engineer Christine Szalai's call. I will never forget the joy of the moment when she finally announced "a touch of approval."
The InSight mission has been planning for over 10 years. Between planetary missions, it's a little oddball. While most tasks are designed to look at the surface or atmosphere of planetary bodies, InSight's goal is to look deep below the surface – it helps us break into the secrets of how it and other rocky planets form.
The device carries out several tools, including seismometers, heat flow probe, magnetometer and radio transmitter. The Heat Flow and Physical Properties Probe (HP3) hammer will be at a depth of five meters below the surface of Mars, almost twice as many as the Moon's visual size drills. Its measurements will tell us how quickly the heat disappears from the interior of the planet, which helps us understand how Mars is cool over time.
The experiment of rotation and interior design (RISE) will in essence be a great radio signal that is sent from Earth back to us. The difference in frequency between the initial and the return signal can then be used to design an InSight lander speed relative to the ground, just as the siren pitch tells us whether it is moving towards us or away from us. We are particularly keen to use the speed to tell us how Mara's rotational axis fluctuates over time. The size of these rollers depends on the structure of the interior, and, in particular, on its dense metal core. Like the virgin egg, which focuses on a flat surface, more than hot cooked, Mars vibes more if its core is liquid.
I am working on an internal structure seismic experiment (SEIS) consisting of two seismometers mounted on a smoothing system that will sit about 15 cm above the surface of Mars. This experiment is intended to cover the extent of Mars's seismic activity. We will also use the time required for seismic waves to reach the seismometers to tell us about the temperature and composition of the interior, just as a physician uses a CT scanner.
Now we have about three months, during which the instruments will be deployed and activated. In the next few days, the health of the systems will be tested and the platform and the area will be well received so that the operation team can decide where to place the InSight heat flow probe and seismometers. The first image taken from the surface suggests that we have reached a shallow sand crater, which is hardly rocky, so it looks like there will be several possibilities.
Almost in mid-December, a robot arm raises station-mounted seismometers from a landing deck and lowers them to the surface. After detailed checks, the balancing system will be used to make sure the seismometers are completely horizontal. By mid-January, a guard must be inserted at the top of the seismometer to protect them from the elements. They can then be turned on and the heat flow probe will be located.
The heat flow probe will start the return of the data as it starts to flow below the ground, so we expect the results to be achieved in the first half of 2019. The radio experiment will take a little longer. Indeed, in the coming year, we will not be the most suitable for seeing the Mars Shake. It will change in mid-2020, when we should be in an ideal position to discover the secrets of its kernels.
As for the SEIS experiment, when we see something exciting, it will depend on how often seismic energy is generated. We do not know this at the moment. We know that there are two possible sources of seismic activity: meteorite shocks and "Marsocians" caused by movement along the surface.
Although we know that meteorites often come to Mars, the speed of the failure is a mystery. Unlike the Earth, the Mars does not have a moving tectonic plate, so it is estimated that the blame moves when the planet's interior cools down. However, some of the latest defects in Mars appear to have been formed not by cooling, but also by melting rock movements underneath the surface. By discovering the frequency and nature of labels, we will be able to pinpoint the causes accurately.
Using three main experiments, InSight will provide a "snapshot" of Mars's state of the art and composition. But that's not where scientific discoveries will end. After all, the mission will help us understand the processes that took place more than 4.5 billion years ago when the solar system was very young.
Here is why. The planet's composition is determined when it is formed, and in the case of Mars it was only a few million years after the sun's ignition. We think that, due to its long distance from the sun, Mars is formed from a variety of materials that are more flexible than the Earth. However, until Mars is known, it is very difficult to test and develop this idea. The data returned from InSight will be the basic principles for understanding the formation of rocky planets in our solar system – and possibly also those around other stars.
The composition of our planet, temperature and magnetic field are also important for maintaining our planet's life. So while InSight is not looking for life, it will give us new insights into how Earth has been uniquely suited for life more than four billion years ago.
InSight is already a huge engineering success, and the science team now has an incredible opportunity to use it to discover the secrets of Mars. We hope you're so excited as we are.
- Posted by Bob Myhil, UK Postgraduate Student at Bristol University
- This article has been republished from the Creative Commons License