NASA’s InSight lander has detected one of the most powerful and longest-lasting quakes on the Red Planet since the start of its mission. The big marsquake happened on Sept. 18 on Earth, which happened to coincide with InSight’s 1,000th Martian day, or sol since it landed on Mars.
The temblor is estimated to be about a magnitude 4.2 and shook for an unthinkable hour-and-a-half! For comparison, on Earth, most quakes last for just a few seconds, although two (one in 1960 and another in 2004) lasted for about 10 minutes. Scientists are still studying the data collected on this marsquake to determine why (and how) it endured for such a long time.
Continue reading “NASA’s InSight Experiences its Most Powerful Marsquake so far: Magnitude 4.2, Lasting 90 Minutes”
In May of 2018, NASA’s Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy, and Heat Transport (InSight) landed on the Martian surface. This mission is the first of its kind, as all previous orbiters, landers, and rovers focused on studying the surface and atmosphere of Mars. In contrast, InSight was tasked with characterizing Mars’ interior structure and measuring the core, mantle, and crust by reading its seismic activity (aka. “marsquakes”).
The purpose of this is to learn more about the geological evolution of Mars since it formed 4.5 billion years ago, which will also provide insight into the formation of Earth. According to three recently published papers, the data obtained by InSight has led to new analyses on the depth and composition of Mars’ crust, mantle and confirmed the theory that the planet’s inner core is molten.
Continue reading “InSight has Mapped out the Interior of Mars, Revealing the Sizes of its Crust, Mantle, and Core”
Ever have an idea that was so crazy that it just might work? A few weeks ago, members of the InSight Mars team came up with a crazy, counter-intuitive way to try to get dust off the lander’s solar panels: pour *more* dust on the panels.
Yes, that sounds crazy. But yes, it actually worked!
Continue reading “Clever Trick Used to Clean off InSight’s Solar Panels and Boost its Power”
The English vocabulary has some words that only make sense from an Earth-bound perspective. Earthquake is one of those. Even in some science fiction and fantasy books, where the action takes place somewhere other than Earth, that team is used to denote the ground shaking. It’s therefore nice to see planetary scientists trying to expand the root word to other planets. Marsquakes are the most commonly studied, and now thanks to InSight scientists have collected a full year of data on Marsquakes for the first time.
Continue reading “One Full Year of Seismic Data Collected by Mars Insight Includes 500 Quakes”
All eyes are on Mars this week, and, if we’re being honest, NASA’s InSight lander isn’t the star of the show right now. At the time of writing, we’re anxiously waiting to find out whether or not the Perseverance rover survives its fiery arrival at Mars. But Entry, Descent, and Landing (EDL) is just the first hazard that awaits robotic missions to the red planet. Mars exploration is a marathon, not a sprint, and while Perseverance is just getting started, InSight, which has been on the red planet for two years now, is approaching a tough leg of the race.
InSight’s nemesis: Martian dust. The same cruel villain that killed the Opportunity rover back in 2018.
Continue reading “NASA’s InSight Will Have Reduced Capability Until a Dust Devil Cleans off its Solar Panels”
Now that the UAE’s Hope spacecraft and China’sTianwen-1 have successfully reached the Red Planet, next up is NASA’s Perseverance rover, set to land on February 18th.
Ten operational spacecraft are currently in orbit or on the surface of Mars, ready to welcome the new rover. But one spacecraft in particular, the InSight lander, will be listening closely for Perseverance’s dramatic entry, descent and landing – a.k.a. the Seven Minutes of Terror.
Continue reading “InSight is Going to Try and “Hear” Perseverance Land on Mars From 3,452 km Away”
It’s always a sad day when a mission comes to an end. And it’s even sadder when the mission never really got going in the first place.
That’s where we’re at with NASA’s InSight lander. The entire mission isn’t over, but the so-called Mole, the instrument designed and built by Germany’s DLR, has been pronounced dead.
Continue reading “NASA Has Given Up on Trying to Deploy InSight’s Mole”
For decades, robotic missions have been exploring Mars to learn more about the planet’s geological and environmental history. Next year, the Perseverance rover will join in the hunt and be the first mission to send samples back to Earth and by the 2030s, the first crewed mission is expected to take place. All of these efforts are part of an ongoing effort to find evidence of past (and maybe even present) life on Mars.
According to a new study from Rutgers University-New Brunswick., the most likely place to find this evidence is located several kilometers beneath the surface. It is here (they argue) that water still exists in liquid form, which is likely the result of geothermal heating melting thick subsurface sheets of ice. This research could help resolve lingering questions like the faint young Sun paradox.
Continue reading “You’re Going to Need a Bigger Drill. The Best Place for Life on Mars is Deep, Deep Underground”
It’s been a long road for InSight’s Mole. InSight landed on Mars almost two years ago, in November 2018. While the lander’s other instruments are working fine and returning scientific data, the Mole has been struggling to hammer its way into the surface of the planet.
After much hard work and a lot of patience, the Mole has finally succeeded in burying itself all the way into the Marian regolith.
But the drama hasn’t concluded yet.
Continue reading “InSight’s ‘Mole’ is Now Completely buried!”
The InSight lander is making progress on Mars. After many months of struggle and careful adaptation, the InSight lander’s ‘Mole’ is finally into the ground. There’s still more delicate work to be done, and they’re not at operating depth yet. But after such a long, arduous affair, this feels like a victory.
Continue reading “InSight’s Mole Is In!”