Marsquakes mission successfully land on the Red Planet
From: UK Space Agency
Published: Monday, November 26, 2018
A mission to Mars, supported by the UK space organization, has successfully landed and will soon begin the first study of the heart of the planet.
The NASA InSight mission landed at 19:53 GMT, Monday, November 26th.
InSight will study the inside of Mars to learn how planets, moons and meteorites with rocky surfaces, including the earth and its extent, were formed. The master's instrument includes a seismometer to detect "Marsquakes" and a probe to monitor the heat flow below the plane's surface.
The British Space Agency has invested 4 million pounds in the short seismometer (SEIS-SP). This will be on Mars surface to measure seismic waves from Marsquakes. Researchers expect to discover anywhere between a dozen and one hundred of these tremors up to 6.0 on the Richter scale for two years.
Sue Horne, Head of Space Exploration at the UK Space Agency, said: "It's wonderful that inSight spacecraft landed safely on Mars. The British scientists and engineers involved in this mission have committed several years of their lives to build the seismometer on board, and The descent is always a worrying time. We can now look forward to the deployment of the instrument and the data that will come to the New Year, to improve our understanding of how the planet was formed. "
InSight has three instruments designed and built in the UK as part of the seismic package. These microseismometers were developed by Imperial College London and integrated with electronics built by the University of Oxford.
The British team was led by Professor Tom Pike at Imperial, who designed the sensors to withstand the shock and vibration of launch from Earth and landing on Mars. The sensors can detect motion at sub-atomic weights using the electronics built in Oxford under Dr. Simon Calcutt, supported by STFC RAL Space.
Prof. Tom Pike said: "We could turn on the microseismometers during the cruise to Mars and they performed perfectly and showed that they survived the strings of launch when they left the earth. But every landing on Mars is risky and we waited nervously at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to get the first signal back from the successful landing. "
The farmer takes several weeks to insert two of his three instruments, the seismometer and the probe on the Mars surface. Britain will have a team of instrumentalists from Imperial and Oxford at JPL in California to help with this process, including choosing the right place for the robotic arm to deposit the seismometer.
Prof Pike added: "We will listen to Marsquakes for at least two years, and we hope much longer. It is important that we put the instrument in the best possible way to ensure we are stable, and then follow up on a protection to protect our sensors from the wind. "
The instrument team will be joined by British seismologists from Bristol, led by Dr. Nick Teanby, Imperial, led by Professor Gareth Collins and Oxford, led by Dr. Neil Bowles, for analyzing data from all mission instruments.
Dr. Neil Bowles, of the University of Oxford's Department of Physics, said: "The InSight SEIS-SP seismometer is one of the most sensitive and challenging instruments we have been working for space flight in Oxford. After the launch in May and successful instrument check during the cruise to Mars, the team is made happy to witness the landing. We have shown that a traditionally sensitive scientific instrument can be launched on a rocket and the next challenge is to see how it behaves on the surface of the planet.
"With our partners at Imperial College London, STFC RAL Space and the UK Space Agency, the SEIS-SP seismometer has been fitted and qualified for flight has been a significant effort. After almost a decade of preparation, construction and testing, we are incredibly pleased that science can now begin. "
The mission, derived from California in May this year, will conduct six scientific investigations on and below the Mars surface to expose the evolutionary story that shaped all the rocky planets of the inner solar system.
Anna Horleston, a researcher at Bristol University, said: "I have studied seismic data from all over the world, but to get the chance to study data from Mars is just something else. To finally see it arrive and to test our techniques on real Martian seismic data is so exciting. "
The British instrument will work with seismometers from France, as well as major contributions from Switzerland, Germany and the United States. Other onboard instruments include RISE, a precision radio tracking of landlords that can determine the direction and motion of the Mars rotation and HP3 (thermal and physical properties) studying the heat flow by embedding a temperature sensor below the surface of Mars.
InSight stands for Interior Exploration using seismic surveys, geodesy and heat transport.
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