After more than seven years of waiting since the last expedition in 2012, Mars will once again receive a terrestrial visitor on its Martian surface.
The countdown has already begun, for this Monday the arrival of InSight to the red planet is expected. A mission that NASA has designed to study not only the surface of the planet Mars but also the interior of it.
This extraordinary trip began on May 5, after 480 million km traveled and 205 days of travel through the solar system is expected that NASA’s InSight mission made its landing on the surface of Mars on Monday, November 26, specifically in an area called Elysium Planitia.
The ship will land on the surface of the planet Mars with three devices legs-like. Its main mission is to study more exhaustively the deep interior of the planet Mars in order to better identify the origin of formation of this planet and consequently the origin of the Solar System.
As Bruce Banerdt, principal investigator of the InSight mission states: “The signatures of the planet’s formation processes can be found only by detecting and studying hidden evidence well below the surface. of Mars, taking the vital signs of the planet: its pulse, temperature and reflexes “.
InSight measuring instruments
For the measurement of the vital signs of Mars, the InSight mission will use 3 main instruments:
The SIX, a 6 sensor seismometer that will record the seismic waves that circulate inside the planet. The study of these seismic waves will provide scientists with valuable data to identify the origin of them. At the moment they think that they can be caused by external collisions on the surface but it is expected that these investigations will confirm it.
The HP3, a probe penetration device, which allows collecting data on the flow of heat inside the planet. This valuable sounding will determine whether Earth and Mars are made of the same material or not.
The RISE, through the system of the radius of the module of the ship will evaluate the oscillations of the axis of rotation of the planet, providing relevant information about the structure of the nucleus of the planet.
For the realization of its work the module of the ship will be supported fixing itself to the surface of the planet by 3 legs, in a zone of flat surface already stabilized where it will remain fixed until the completion of its mission.
“Choosing a good landing spot on Mars is a lot like choosing a good home: it’s about location, location and location,” said Tom Hoffman, InSight project manager at JPL. “And for the first time, the evaluation of a landing site on Mars had to consider what was below the surface of Mars, we needed not only a safe place to land, but also a work space that is penetrable to our flow probe of heat of 5 meters long “.
Another difficulty that NASA scientists have had to face is to choose an appropriate place to land the InSight mission. Determine a sufficiently illuminated area to be able to feed the solar cells of the modular device. And in addition the place had to be warm enough to withstand the temperature limits during a whole Martian year, approximately 26 Earth months.
To all this must be added the choice of a safe area of landing and a flat and stable surface that guarantees the good end of the mission. A difficult challenge but not impossible for NASA.
For this reason they have chosen a warm place with a flat surface located in the band around the equator of the planet, where the solar panel will surely get enough sunlight throughout the year.
“The site must have an elevation low enough to have atmosphere above it for a safe landing, since the spacecraft will first rely on atmospheric friction with its heat shield and then on a parachute that goes into the dim Mars’s atmosphere during a large part of its slowdown, ” continued Hoffman.
“And after the ramp has fallen and the braking rockets have been activated for the final descent, there needs to be a flat extension to land, not undulating and relatively free of rocks that may tilt the Mars lander of three legs “.
After considering other locations on the surface of Mars, the research team determined that only three areas met these requirements. Isidis Planitia, Valles Marineris and Elysium Planitia.
Subsequent climatic studies of the zones in question discarded two of them for being of rocky surface and windy climate and the one that was most adapted for the mission, Elysium Planitia, was finally determined.
From Earth we are all waiting for this great mission. Waiting the landing of the InSight module next Monday, November 26. The countdown has begun. From Earth, we hope that this mission will make great advances in space research and provide solid foundations for future interplanetary expeditions.
A dizzying deceleration in just 7 minutes
InSight will approach the surface of Mars crossing its atmosphere at a speed of 19,800 km / h and then reduce it drastically to only 8 km / h, before its module finally touches the Martian surface.
This extreme deceleration will occur in just under seven minutes and will subject the InSight module to a temperature of approximately 1,300 degrees Celsius. A landing to say little, extraordinary.
Once anchored on the surface of Mars, the solar panels will unfold slowly in a few hours. But before starting the data collection through the SEIS, HP3 and RISE devices, the surrounding terrain will be evaluated for approximately 3 months. After which the scientific research itself will begin.
“While I wait for these first images from the surface, I am even more anxious to see the first data sets that reveal what is happening far below our landing platforms, the beauty of this mission will happen below the surface. Elysium Planitia is perfect.” Banerdt, principal investigator of the InSight mission.
The flag of the planet Earth
Earth as a planet does not have an official flag yet. No international organization has definitively adopted an official flag of the planet Earth. There is, however, the will to create a flag that identifies our planet.
Different propositions have represented the planet Earth as a geographical entity in which there are no political, religious or demographic connotations. But as we say, none has been chosen to officially represent our planet for the moment.
One of the most outstanding is the Earth Day Flag, proposed by John MacConnell.
It has been designed by American pacifism activist John McConnell. In it the image of the Earth obtained by NASA on December 7, 1972 stands out against a dark blue background. This flag has been used to represent Earth on Earth Day that was celebrated on April 22, 1973 and since then it has been associated with that celebration.
Another possibly the most popular and the one that is most opinionated. This is the so-called International Flag of Planet Earth, proposed by a group of design students from the Beckmans College of Design in Stockholm.
In it humanity is represented in a global way by means of the design of a blue hue of 7 interlaced rings, known in geometry as the flower of life, and it would symbolize the union of our planet.
The idea that the planet is represented by a flag is a theme that has been raised for some time. A flag that would identify and unify our planet Earth for projects and events of international interest, both for research and space exploration and international environmental events related to climate and the conservation of the planet.