(The AEGIS Alliance) – NASA’s InSight Lander has been flying through outer space towards Mars for the majority of 2018. It finally touched ground on Mars today, after it passed into the planet’s atmosphere, then deployed its parachute, followed by landing on the Red Planet floor. NASA held a live-stream video of its Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s mission control room, which had many very excited engineers and scientists there for InSight’s arrival.
In these modern times when we have rovers roaming around Mars this may not sound like such a big deal, but this is far from the truth. There is an astounding amount of work that goes into missions like this which seems invisible when looking from outside. However, the InSight team has been working on this lander project for nearly a decade.
One of the biggest challenges NASA faces in regards to landing on Mars is not being able to test what will happen with the hardware in real-world conditions. But of course the team performs tests of all the hardware in simulated environments, such as placing the parachute in a wind tunnel to stress test it to its limits. Although, testing the actual timing between different phases of the landing process is pretty much impossible without traveling to the planet itself.
Thankfully it all went according to plan today for NASA, and the InSight lander has wound up being just about where it’s supposed to be. Landing sites are never an exact perfect location. While the landing area is very flat, there are still obstacles such as boulders and rocks that could have been trouble for the lander. It appears that the lander has avoided those obstacles and touched ground just as its handlers had planned on.
Looking forward, the InSight robot is going to deploy its instruments, then start listening closely to inner workings of the Red Planet. Its mission is planned to last a couple years on the surface of Mars. It will be tasked with sending data on whatever it hears that’s happening below the Red Planet’s outer crust. We can only wonder what it will find for now. Will the inside of Mars be similar to Earth, or will there be a curve ball it’s ready to throw at us? It won’t be that long of a wait before we find out for certain.
Kyle James Lee – The AEGIS Alliance – This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.