The largest parking lot on Mars & # 39;



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Concept of the artist. The landing point of InSight, Elysium Planitia.Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

Simply blah.

This is a reasonable description for the normal fate of the InSight spacecraft, now hours away from a touchdown of Mars.

"The largest parking lot on Mars," NASA says.

"Smooth and flat," says Matt Golombek of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

In fact, Elysium Planitia – the landing site slightly north of the Martian equator – is monotonous, not mountainous; a relentlessly simple sandy plain.

"A place that does not have large cliffs or large craters," says Golombek. "There are not many steep slopes, not too many rocks."

Exactly what NASA wants.

"Although I never call it boring," adds Golombek, the geologist who heads the mission landing site team. "Dizzy is in the eye of the beholder."

Particularly, going deep: Once deployed, InSight plans to bite five meters – about 16 feet – under the bleak landscape.

Soak in or out, and NASA can understand the underground secrets of Mars.

An image of the landing site, taken by the Mars Odyssey orbiter.Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / ASU

The location of the InSight landing site, 373 miles from the Curiosity rover.Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

For virtually any vehicle, the flat floor is a dependable floor. Obstructions are dangerous.

Land on a large rock and InSight is prone to drilling; arrive on a steep slope, and can tilt or tip over. Settle on a surface that can not stand the load – a bit of Martian dust is "extremely sweet," says Golombek – and the spacecraft "can effectively disappear."

That's why the touch point, annoying or not, works. None of these scenarios are likely to exist. & Nbsp;"This is the best place we can find, "he says.

NASA's search for the site took about three and a half years. Using the orbiter of Mars, scientists imagined Elysium Planitia systematically and exhaustively; the 150 high resolution photos were indispensable.

"We have tremendously detailed information,Golombek says. & nbsp;"We measured the slopes. The distribution of the crater. The shadows of the rocks. You do not play on a landing site. "

Now the Insight team, with reasonable confidence, can identify almost everything in the area about one meter in size.

"That's something like the size of your desk," says Golombek.

Still, Elysium Planitia offers no guarantees.

"As soon as we land," he says, "we'll know how well we've done."

Simulation: InSight tapping down.Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

Unlike the Mars robots, InSight does not wander. Instead, the probe remains in place.

The mission, literally revolutionary, examines the mysterious interior of Mars; two instruments on the spacecraft go into Mars.

A seismograph, housed in a ball the size of a volleyball, will detect landslides, dust storms, meteor attacks and tsunamis.

A self-hammered mechanical spring, connected to temperature sensors, will find out how much heat is coming out of the planet.& # 39; S& nbsp; interior.

Now the hard part.

For Insight, the rocks beneath the surface are as complicated as the rocks above.

Take the mole. Great for digging the Martian soil. Great for small stones four to five centimeters in diameter (the mole just pushes them out of the way). Just ok with something just a little bigger; sometimes the mole can maneuver through and through it.

But there is a limit. "It can not pass through hard and intact rocks," says Golombek. If the mole collides directly with a large and flat, it stops.

Equally scarythe mole has only one photo at the point of entry, it does nothing.

"Once, and that's it," he says.

Still, NASA says a descent of 16 feet – or more – is doable.

"That's a pretty high probability," Golombek predicts.

"But you never know for sure."

Concept of the artist. InSight will investigate the internal structure of Mars – its crust, mantle, and core.Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

If InSight deciphers the Martian interior, scientists can deduce the early history of Mars. They can discover how rocky planets formed and evolved over billions of years. Evidence of how life flares up in a world – or disappears – will come.

These clues have long been lost on Earth, a geologically dynamic place that has destroyed most of its past. But Mars remains very much the way it had been ages ago.

"It's all wrapped up in geology," says Golombek.

Unwrap it, and finally we can understand the birth of Earth. Nothing blah about that.

"On a mission"- the new podcast series on the InSight journey to Mars, presented by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory-is here.

Art Print InSight Sander on the Martian surface.Credit: NASA / GSCF

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Concept of the artist. The landing point of InSight, Elysium Planitia.Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

Simply blah.

This is a reasonable description for the normal fate of the InSight spacecraft, now hours away from a landing on Mars.

"The largest parking lot on Mars," NASA says.

"Smooth and flat," says Matt Golombek of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

In fact, Elysium Planitia – the landing site slightly north of the Martian equator – is monotonous, not mountainous; a relentlessly simple sandy plain.

"A place that does not have large cliffs or large craters," says Golombek. "There are not many steep slopes, not too many rocks."

Exactly what NASA wants.

"Although I never call it boring," adds Golombek, the geologist who heads the mission landing site team. "Dizzy is in the eye of the beholder."

Particularly when going deep: Once deployed, InSight plans to drill five meters – about 16 feet – under the bleak landscape.

Soak in or out, and NASA can understand the underground secrets of Mars.

An image of the landing site, taken by the Mars Odyssey orbiter.Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / ASU

The location of the InSight landing site, 373 miles from the Curiosity rover.Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

For virtually any vehicle, the flat floor is a dependable floor. Obstructions are dangerous.

Land on a large rock and InSight is prone to drilling; arrive on a steep slope, and can tilt or tip over. Settle on a surface that can not stand the load – a bit of Martian dust is "extremely sweet," says Golombek – and the spacecraft "can effectively disappear."

That's why the touch point, annoying or not, works. None of these scenarios are likely there. "This is the best place we can find, "he says.

NASA's search for the site took about three and a half years. Using the orbiter of Mars, scientists imagined Elysium Planitia systematically and exhaustively; the 150 high resolution photos were indispensable.

"We have tremendously detailed information,Golombek says. "We measured the slopes. The distribution of the crater. The shadows of the rocks. You do not play on a landing site. "

Now the Insight team, with reasonable confidence, can identify almost everything in the area about one meter in size.

"That's something like the size of your desk," says Golombek.

Still, Elysium Planitia offers no guarantees.

"As soon as we land," he says, "we'll know how well we've done."

Simulation: InSight tapping down.Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

Unlike the Mars robots, InSight does not wander. Instead, the probe remains in place.

The mission, literally revolutionary, examines the mysterious interior of Mars; two instruments on the spacecraft go into Mars.

A seismograph, housed in a ball the size of a volleyball, will detect landslides, dust storms, meteor attacks and tsunamis.

A self-hammered mechanical spring, connected to temperature sensors, will find out how much heat is coming out of the planet.& # 39; S interior.

Now the hard part.

For Insight, the rocks beneath the surface are as complicated as the rocks above.

Take the mole. Great for digging the Martian soil. Great for small stones four to five centimeters in diameter (the mole just pushes them out of the way). Just ok with something just a little bigger; sometimes the mole can maneuver through and through it.

But there is a limit. "It can not pass through hard and intact rocks," says Golombek. If the mole collides directly with a large and flat, it stops.

Equally scarythe mole has only one photo at the point of entry, it does nothing.

"Once, and that's it," he says.

Still, NASA says a descent of 16 feet – or more – is doable.

"That's a pretty high probability," Golombek predicts.

"But you never know for sure."

Concept of the artist. InSight will investigate the internal structure of Mars – its crust, mantle, and core.Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

If InSight deciphers the Martian interior, scientists can deduce the early history of Mars. They can discover how rocky planets formed and evolved over billions of years. Evidence of how life flares up in a world – or disappears – will come.

These clues have long been lost on Earth, a geologically dynamic place that has destroyed most of its past. But Mars remains very much the way it had been ages ago.

"It's all wrapped up in geology," says Golombek.

Unpack and we can understand the birth of the Earth. Nothing blah about that.

"On a mission"- the new podcast series on InSight's journey to Mars, presented by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, is here.

Art Print InSight Sander on the Martian surface.Credit: NASA / GSCF

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