NASA said on August 20, 2018 that the InSight spacecraft, which was launched on May 5 and is now on its way to Mars, was passed halfway through August 6. All instruments have been tested and work well. More about Insight below.
In the meantime, NASA said it still has not heard anything from its Opportunity Rover on Mars. The nearly 15-year-old rover suddenly fell silent on June 10, after a planet-wide dust storm erased the sun and cut off the rover's solar power. Space scientists now believe that the dust storm is rotting – which means that the air clears up on Mars – and hopefully this means that the rover will soon be able to recharge and call home. More about Opportunity below.
Firstly … Insight, which stands for Interior Exploration with Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport.
InSight Mars is NASA's newest Mars mission, which landed on Mars on 26 November 2018 in the Elysium Planitia region. His mission will be to study the deep interior of the Red Planet, another scoop for the space agency and the human race.
As of August 20, NASA said the spacecraft had covered 172 million miles (277 million km) since its launch on 5 May. It is due to travel another 129 million miles (208 million km) to reach Mars. These distances seem enormous, and yet InSight benefited from an exceptionally close approach between Earth and Mars this summer, culminating on July 31, bringing Mars closer than it had been since 2003.
NASA said the InSight team uses the time before Mars spacecraft arrival not only to plan and practice before the critical landing day, but also to subsystems of spacecraft vital to cruise, landings. and surface operations, including the very sensitive, to activate and control. scientific instruments.
The instrument context camera of the spacecraft also acquired an image with a long exposure time (24 seconds) – a faint but still cool image selfie – some interior features of the backshell encapsulate the vessel. View the image below.
Read more: NASA & # 39; s InSight passes mid-way through Mars, instruments check-in
Now, about Opportunity.
Opportunity Rover has been quiet since 10 June. Now the global dust storm is showing signs of rotting – which means that more dust is released from the atmosphere than it is returned to it. The hope of engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California is that this clearing trend will continue and that we will not get a new dust storm. They hope that if the sky on Mars becomes clear (if they become clear) – and Opportunity regains its power source (the sun) – the robber can revive.
But nobody knows for sure. And nobody will know how the robber is busy until he speaks, NASA said. Nevertheless, the Opportunity team sees reasons to be optimistic:
They have conducted various studies into the state of the batteries before the storm and the temperatures at the site. Because the batteries were relatively healthy before the storm, there is probably not too much deterioration. And because duststorms usually warm up the environment – and the 2018 storm happened when the Opportunity on Mars location went into the summer – the rover would have to be warm enough to survive.
What will the technicians be looking for – and what do those signs mean for recovery efforts? Read more: 6 things about the recovery efforts of Opportunity.
One thing to keep in mind is that – even if engineers hear back from Opportunity – the rover may not be the same. The batteries could have discharged so much power, NASA explained – and remained inactive for so long – that their capacity was reduced.
If these batteries can not hold that much charge, this can affect the continuous operation of the rover. It can also mean that energy-bleeding behavior, such as using the heating in the winter, can cause the batteries to turn brown.
Dust is usually not a problem. Earlier storms plastered dust on the camera lenses, but most of them were repelled over time. Residual dust can be calibrated.
Missing possibility? NASA invites you to write a message with your thoughts. Aw!
Bottom line: Insight Mars – launched May 5 – is halfway through and comes out for a touchdown on November 26th. The 15-year-old Opportunity rover has lost contact with Earth as a global dust storm that Mars surrounded around months ago, but scientists are hopeful.
Read more: Insight Mars is on its way