Today’s Deep Space Extra

November 27th, 2018

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… NASA, Lockheed Martin and an international team celebrated Monday as the Mars InSight lander touched down successfully on the Red Planet for a two years mission, sending back images and deploying vital solar panels.

Human Space Exploration

Small steps for space settlement

The Space Review (11/26): The National Space Society’s Space Settlement Summit offers a fresh look at the vision of people living and working in space, whether on the moon, another planetary surface or on space colonies like those envision by Gerald K O’Neill decades ago. New enthusiasm was expressed around the amounts of cargo new heavy lift rockets could be able to place in space at a lower cost. Some wonder, though, how soon the vision can find an effective commercial basis.


NASA InSight

We congratulate NASA and the entire Insight team on the successful landing and power up of the NASA Insight Lander yesterday!  Coalition Member Lockheed Martin manufactured the vehicle, with major subcontractors that include Coalition members Aerojet Rocketdyne, Honeywell, Northrop Grumman, hundreds of other businesses – many of which are also Coalition members – and an international team including DLR and CNES. 

InSight successfully lands on Mars (11/26): NASA’s Mars InSight lander successful touched down on Mars Monday afternoon, ending a six month journey from Earth and opening the door on a new chapter in Red Planet subsurface investigation. After confirmation of a touchdown about 3 p.m., EST, NASA mission managers and scientists awaited confirmation of solar array deployment. In the coming weeks, InSight is to deploy instruments on the Martian surface and subsurface to assess the planet’s level of geological activity and assess the status of a possible core. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence was among those who joined in the celebration as NASA spread the word by broadcast and social media.

NASA’s InSight mission has touched down on Mars to study the Red Planet’s deep secrets

New York Times (11/26): Cheers erupted on Monday at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, which operates the spacecraft, when InSight sent back acknowledgment of its safe arrival on Mars. That was the end of a journey of more than six months and 300 million miles. As InSight descended and each milestone of the landing process was called out, “the hairs on the back of my neck would start rising a little bit higher, a little bit higher,” Tom Hoffman, the project manager for the mission, said at a news conference after the landing. “And then when we finally got the confirmation of touchdown, it was completely amazing. The whole room went crazy.”

InSight is catching rays on Mars (11/27): NASA’s InSight has sent signals to Earth indicating that its solar panels are open and collecting sunlight on the Martian surface. NASA’s Mars Odyssey orbiter relayed the signals, which were received on Earth at about 5:30 p.m. PST (8:30 p.m. EST). Solar array deployment ensures the spacecraft can recharge its batteries each day. Odyssey also relayed a pair of images showing InSight’s landing site. “The InSight team can rest a little easier tonight now that we know the spacecraft solar arrays are deployed and recharging the batteries,” said Tom Hoffman, InSight’s project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, which leads the mission. “It’s been a long day for the team. But tomorrow begins an exciting new chapter for InSight: surface operations and the beginning of the instrument deployment phase.”

NASA’s InSight lander sends back stunning image of the Martian horizon

Gizmodo (11/26): NASA’s InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) probe successfully completed its soft landing on Mars on Monday after a six-month, 300 million mile journey. And it’s already sending back photos of the desolate Red Planet from its landing site on the Elysium Planitia, courtesy of a post on the lander’s official Twitter feed reading, “There’s a quiet beauty here. Looking forward to exploring my new home.”

Behold! Here’s the 1st photo from Mars from NASA’s InSight lander (11/26): Assisted by a pair of small interplanetary communications relay satellites, NASA’s Mars InSight lander quickly transmitted its first image back to Earth Monday after it 3 p.m., EST, landing at Elysium Planitia on Mars.

More Mars images from the InSight lander and a plucky cubesat (11/26): Late Monday, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) received confirmation that the Mars Insight lander’s solar panels had successfully deployed to assure the electricity for its two year mission. Also received were more images of the Martian landing site and spacecraft and its cubesat companions.

As NASA celebrates Mars landing, a busy future awaits, agency’s chief says (11/26): NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine joined those gathered at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) for the landing of the Mars InSight spacecraft on Monday. The space agency chief noted there is more to some, NASA’s Osiris Rex is nearing its asteroid sample return destination, Bennu; the Solar Parker Probe will make close-up observations of the sun; the distant New Horizons spacecraft will fly by the Kuiper Belt object Ultima Thule on New Year’s Day.

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