It’s been a busy first three weeks on the InSight mission, and they’ve already achieved a major milestone: placing the seismometer on the ground. In this post I’ll give a few brief highlights of the latest mission activities, and then go into absurd detail about mission operations and engineering. Thanks very much to principal investigator Bruce Banerdt for an informative interview full of the kinds of details that Mars geeks will love.
According to a post-deployment update posted to the JPL website, the seismometer has been placed about as far away from the lander as the arm can reach, 1.636 meters away. The next step in the long process of setting up InSight’s experiments is to level the seismometer; its placement spot has a very gentle slope of 2-3 degrees. They may (or may not) also nudge the tether ribbon slightly to minimize the noise it contributes to seismometer measurements (more on that below). After that, they’ll place a lid over the seismometer to shield it from wind, daytime heat, and nighttime cold. They expect to have the heat probe placed on the ground, about 1.2 meters to the left of the seismometer, by late January…. [More at link]