After many years of development and six months of space travel, NASA’s Insight Mission recently landed on Mars.
The technicians at NASA’s Mission Control in Pasadena, California were jubilant when the landing was successful. This explorer’s main goal is to take measurements of Mars. It will spend about a year and a half measuring seismic activity, planet temperature, and other more delicate wobble-like vibrations that come from the gravitational pull of the Sun and other planets on Mars, using what NASA calls precision-tracking.
Business Insider reports that instead of going around exploring Mars at random, the Insight explorer will stay in place while taking its measurements and will drill down about 15 feet (three meters) into the surface of the planet. Scientists hope that by drilling into the Mars interior that the equipment will be able to more accurately measure the vibrations of the rock layers to investigate what Mars is made of and how the rock layers are aligned.
The Standard UK says that by examining the interior of Mars, researchers hope to answer important questions about how planets like Mars and Earth were formed. NASA hopes to learn much more during the extended mission than could be learned by just observing the surface of Mars.
Mars has some unique characteristics that make studying its interior very compelling. In the past, it had less tectonic activity of the plates shifting than Earth experienced. This means the record of the formation of the planet remained more intact on Mars for the past four billion years. When the Insight drill goes down into the Mars planet, it will be passing through levels that have been nearly undisturbed for a very long time.
This geological history is very useful in helping scientists figure out how the planet was created. The information gathered will help them learn how the rock layers were formed and how the crust, mantle, and core of the Mars planet separated into distinct layers.
The Insight Mission is the tenth NASA exploration of Mars so far. In 2007, the Phoenix Mission determined there was water on Mars in the form of ice that it found at the north pole of the planet.
The Insight Mission uses technology developed by cooperation with many other countries. Its scientific equipment includes seismic equipment provided by CNES, which is the French Space Agency. This equipment was created with the participation of the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Germany, the Federal Institute of Technology of Switzerland, the American Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Imperial College of the UK, and the German Space Agency DLR.
The Insight Mission is already a success by continuing the international cooperation in space exploration. In 2020, NASA plans to launch another mission with the goal to search for life on Mars. We look forward to any revelations that may come from NASA discoveries on Mars.