NASA has finally identified the exact landing position of its new Mars explorer, thanks to a powerful camera on its Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
While the space agency knew that InSight had landed on an ellipse of 130 miles (81 miles) on the red planet, there was no way to determine exactly where it had landed in this region .
Now, a series of images captured this week by the MRO HiRISE camera have confirmed that the lander, heat shield and parachute are all less than a meter away from one another on a lava plain called Elysium Planitia.
Scroll down for the video
NASA has finally identified the exact landing position of its new Mars explorer, thanks to a powerful camera on its Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. While the space agency knew that InSight had landed on an ellipse of 130 miles (81 miles) on the red planet, there was no way to determine exactly where it had landed in this region
In images released today by NASA, InSight and its parts appear as bright green patches on a rust-colored landscape.
But in reality, this is just a trick of light.
"The light reflected off their surfaces causes color saturation," explains NASA.
The ground around the lander appears dark, having been blown out of its retrorocket during the descent. Look carefully at the shape of a butterfly and you can distinguish the solar panels of the lander on both sides. "
Just a few days ago, the new NASA InSight lander took its first selfie from the red planet, giving the mission team (and the rest of the world) a good look at its solar panels and its now-set deck.
InSight also returned the first complete view of the 14×7 foot strip that will soon serve as a "work space".
In images released today by NASA, InSight and its parts appear as bright green patches on a rust-colored landscape. But in reality, this is just a trick of light
A series of images captured this week by MRO's HiRISE camera have confirmed that the lander (red dot), the heat shield and the parachute are all within 300 meters of each other on a lava plain called Elysium Planitia. Previously, the space agency knew that they had landed an ellipse of 81 miles (blue)
Each of the new images is a mosaic of different catches sewn together.
While the selfie, captured by the robotic arm, is a set of 11 images, the view of the workspace includes 52 individual photos.
This allows scientists to take a good look at the area well before InSight starts laying the tools and digging into the ground.
"The near absence of rocks, hills and holes means that it will be extremely safe for our instruments," said InSight's principal investigator, Bruce Banerdt, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
"It might seem like a rather simple piece of land if it were not on Mars, but we're happy to see it."
NASA has confirmed the landing sites of InSight, its parachute and other components thanks to the new images of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter
InSight previously sent back the first full view of the 14×7 foot strip which will soon serve as a "work space", indicated in the blue crescent. The team says it looks "extremely safe". The parachute, the back shell and the heat shield were all about 1000 meters away
Even the robots of Mars behave like tourists every now and then. NASA's new InSight lander has taken its first selfie from the red planet, giving the mission team (and the rest of the world) a good look at its solar panels and its deck now that it's set
In the last week or so, InSight postponed the first of his observations – including a clip of light passing over the surface and recordings of Martian winds.
All this happens while the lander and the team behind his operations are getting ready to start working in the next few months.
For now, however, InSight is taking small steps.
This week the lander flexed his 6 foot long arm, taking pictures of the ground directly in front of it.
"Carefully pushing the arm in front of me, I'm starting to look better at the ground in front of me where I'll do my job," he tweeted the InSight NASA account.
"In the meantime, a sort of hypnotized by the play of light and shadow on my arm".
The data collected by InSight's Inisight Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS) in the months prior to its ground transfer will ultimately be used to erase background noise while being used to detect earthquakes.
A few days earlier, NASA revealed that the InSight lander captured the sound of a Martian "dust devil" during its first days on the red planet.
According to the space agency, this is the first time we hear twenty Martians.
It is estimated that the low turbot detected by InSight's sensors oscillates between 10 and 15 mph (5 to 7 meters per second) from the northwest to the southeast and that the recordings are within the radius of human hearing.
NASA states that the sounds recorded on December 1 have aligned themselves with the devil dust strips observed in the landing area.
The vibrations have been recorded in a very low tone, even if those with sharp ears will be able to listen to them as it is, using headphones or subwoofers.
To make it clearer, NASA has increased the tone of two octaves, making it audible on laptops and mobile devices.
The space agency has shared a series of high-resolution photos captured this week. InSight will soon start taking pictures of the terrain directly in front of it, so the team can select the best location to explore. The solar panel that will help to power the car is depicted
While InSight has not decided to record the Martian winds, in particular, the team says that this type of data collection is provided with the territory.
The lander detected wind vibrations with two of its sensors: one designed to measure air pressure and with a seismometer on the bridge.
"Capturing this audio was an unplanned treatment," says Bruce Banerdt, principal investigator at InSight at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab.
"But one of the things our mission is dedicated to is to measure motion on Mars, and of course this includes the movement caused by the sound waves."
According to the InSight team, the two different instruments recorded noise in different ways.
This image shows some of the tools visible in the selfie image sent to Earth by InSight at the beginning of last Tuesday
THREE INSIGHT KEY INSTRUMENTS
The lander that could reveal how the Earth was formed: the InSight lander set for Mars landing on November 26
Three key tools will allow the InSight lander to "take the pulse" of the red planet:
Seismometer: The InSight lander carries a seismometer, SEIS, listening to the pulse of Mars.
The seismometer records the waves traveling through the internal structure of a planet.
The study of seismic waves tells us what the waves could create.
On Mars, scientists suspect the perpetrators may be earthquakes, or meteorites that hit the surface.
Heat probe: The InSight heat transfer probe, HP3, digs deeper than any other spoon, drill or probe on Mars before it.
He will investigate how much heat is still flowing out of Mars.
Radio antennas: Like the Earth, Mars falters a little as it rotates around its axis.
To study this, two radio antennas, part of the RISE instrument, accurately track the position of the lander.
This helps scientists to test the reflections of the planet and explains to them how the deep internal structure influences the motion of the planet around the Sun.
While the pressure sensor of the auxiliary load sensor subsystem directly recorded the vibrations, the seismometer collected the vibrations caused by the wind that passed over the solar panels of the lander.
The data collected by InSight's Inisight Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS) in the months prior to its ground displacement will ultimately be used to erase background noise while operating to detect earthquakes.
Its short-term silicon (SP) sensors are capable of detecting vibrations at frequencies up to 50 hertz, which are found in the lower range of human hearing, NASA says.
"The InSight lander behaves like a giant ear," said Tom Pike, a member of the InSight science team and sensor designed at Imperial College London.
"The solar panels on the sides of the lander respond to wind pressure fluctuations.
"It's as if InSight was holding his cupped ears and feeling the Mars wind beating on it.When we observed the direction of the lander's vibrations coming from the solar panels, it corresponds to the expected wind direction on our landing site."
InSight landed in a region known as Elysium Planitia. His position can be seen in the top map, not far from the landing site of the Curiosity 2012 mission, the last NASA probe lands on Mars
The NASA InSight lander has finally removed the lens cover from its cameras, allowing the robotic explorer to take the clearest pictures of his new home
The team released both a raw and unaltered audio sample of the seismometer recording and a second version that was raised two octaves to facilitate listening.
For this, the APSS sample was sped up by a factor of 100.
According to experts, the source of sound is rather simple; the vibrations detected by the instruments are very similar to the changes in air pressure that you hear when a flag lashes the wind.
"This is literally the sound – changes in atmospheric pressure," said the scientific director of Don Banfield InSight for APSS at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.
"You hear it every time you talk to someone from the other side of the room."