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90 votes
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Why was it necessary to program InSight with an ability to land in dust storms?

Because it's at the end of a 6 month cruise and there's no turning back. InSight will not enter closed orbit around Mars - its trajectory is hyperbolic so either it misses Mars entirely or it enters ...
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49 votes
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Can Curiosity pay InSight a visit?

No. Curiosity took 3 years to travel 10 km. There are no plans to visit InSight, Curiosity's mission is to survey Gale Crater and climb Mount Sharp. Curiosity can travel on the order of 100 m/day. ...
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32 votes
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Why was InSight planned to launch from Vandenberg?

According to the article "Seven Ways Mars InSight is Different", the driver was launch site availability: InSight will ride on top of a powerful Atlas V 401 rocket, which allows for a planetary ...
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32 votes

Why was it necessary to program InSight with an ability to land in dust storms?

InSight doesn't enter Martian orbit before EDL; it plows straight into Mars' atmosphere from interplanetary space. Thus, the time of landing is pretty much un-alterable after its final midcourse ...
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30 votes
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Why is so much of InSight visible in this image?

That image was taken by the Instrument Deployment Camera (IDC). It's located on the arm. With the arm in stowed position, it's logical that a section of the deck is in view. In other words, it's an ...
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27 votes
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Why is InSight's nylon parachute a "soft good"?

I'm pretty sure that by "soft good" he means it's an element of the system that can't be completely constrained from a simulation or engineering standpoint, in this case fabric. If you're working with ...
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20 votes
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What parts of the InSight lander are missing between these two photos?

In the image are the two surface deployable science instruments: SEIS and HP³. The "reddish hexagonal housing" is the seismometer (SEIS). It is then covered by the "silver dome" ...
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19 votes
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What inspired the circular panels on the Phoenix Lander and InSight rover?

Good catch noting that Cygnus has the same solar panel design! Orbital ATK, developer of Cygnus, builds these panels under the "Ultraflex" and "Megaflex" brands, and did indeed ...
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16 votes

How could InSight's seismometers be intentionally and meaningfully "pinged"?

The traditional method (as used in the Apollo project) was to crash used SIVB stages into the Moon.
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16 votes
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Will InSight be able to pick up vibrations from the landing of Perseverance or Tianwen?

I really hope it won't be able to detect Hope, that's orbiting Mars, not landing on it. InSight was actually made to detect these impacts, as it can help one to understand more about Mars. ...
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15 votes
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What will become of the two cubesats deployed as part of the Insight mission?

MarCO's primary mission isn't actually to transmit data from InSight during its entry period. That's a non-essentially function that can be done by other spacecraft, if needed. Instead, the main part ...
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13 votes
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What happens to Insight's parachute on Mars?

I'm pretty sure it will be like the Phoenix lander. Collectively that part of the lander is referred to as the "Backshell". This is the image of Phoenix of the hardware on the surface. This is ...
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13 votes

Why is so much of InSight visible in this image?

To add to Hobbes' answer: InSight hasn't unpacked yet for its stay! There is a lot of equipment which was packaged on top of the deck for transport, which will be moved to their proper places over ...
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12 votes

What will become of the two cubesats deployed as part of the Insight mission?

Not an answer, but comments can't have pictures. After the primary mission of supporting the InSight landing, one of the MarCO sats did snap a nice picture of Mars while departing:
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11 votes

What happens to Insight's parachute on Mars?

During the parachute descent, InSight's trajectory is at an angle to the vertical. After the backshell and parachute separate, the engines fire, leveling the craft. This allows some horizontal ...
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  • 46.6k
11 votes

Can Curiosity pay InSight a visit?

tl;dr: I think it is possible, if Matt Damon's life depended on it. @Hobbes's answer is certainly the most reasonable view and likely to be true. But let's look at this from the standpoint of ...
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10 votes
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InSight Launch - Centaur Fuel Rich

Centaur upper stages have a Propellant Utilization (PU) system. While this document is old, the fundamentals apply. To realize optimum performance in a liquid-fueled bipropellant space ...
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10 votes
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What is the history behind having peanuts in mission control during critical missions?

It turns out this goes way back to the 1960s. Landing on a celestial body isn't easy; JPL had suffered a series of failures during the Ranger missions, some during launch and others further on in each ...
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10 votes
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Why was MarCO-B CubeSats flying away after InSight landed?

Neither the MarCO satellites nor InSight itself had the ability to enter Martian orbit - the interplanetary approach to Mars is quite fast, and it takes a lot of fuel to slow down enough for Mars' ...
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10 votes
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Could InSight lift off and move somewhere else?

Possible, but very likely to cause damage to the spacecraft. Let's look at the lander's systems: Engines: reusable. InSight uses 20 thrusters of three different models, all built by Aerojet. They ...
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10 votes
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Does Mars have a known "prevailing wind" direction?

No. Mars has complex weather. Just the observation of unpredictable global dust storms shows that there is no persistent weather structure anywhere on Mars. Our global climate models of Mars show ...
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10 votes
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What makes Insight's RAD750 processor so radiation resistant? (compared to 1998 iMac's PowerPC 750)

(Sorry that I am not an insider, but I did spend a half-day working on this answer.) Various versions of the iMac G3 used the PowerPC 750, 750CX, and 750CXe. The RAD750 comes in two versions: "...
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9 votes

What will become of the two cubesats deployed as part of the Insight mission?

Both MarCO cubesats are flying by Mars -- not in orbit. Furthermore, during their radio coverage of InSight's entry/descent/landing, their solar arrays are pointed away from the sun, towards Mars. ...
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9 votes
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Has Mars quaked yet? Any scientific speculation when it might?

Yes. The February 2020 peer-reviewed paper The Seismicity of Mars, Nature Geoscience 13:205-212, says: We present seismometer data recorded [from March 2019] until 30 September 2019, which reveal ...
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8 votes

How could InSight's seismometers be intentionally and meaningfully "pinged"?

Let's examine what's already on InSight: A seismometer (SEIS). It's so sensitive that it is expected to be able to sense windstorms, dust devils, and the tidal forces of Mars' moon. To isolate the ...
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  • 46.6k
8 votes

Where will NASA's InSight land on Mars?

All four candidate landing sites were identified in the Elysium Planitia and the most likely landing site (pending final evaluation) will be this one, for providing the smoothest terrain in the ...
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8 votes

Why was it necessary to program InSight with an ability to land in dust storms?

To deal with dust storms, two of the changes between Phoenix and InSight are mechanical in nature: InSight uses a thicker heat shield, partly to handle the possibility of being sandblasted by a ...
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  • 46.6k
8 votes

Is it appropriate to use the term "geology" for Martian studies?

The words perigee and apogee (and their planet-specific equivalents) show it's impractical to use planet-specific names for everything. The solar system alone has far too many objects to make this ...
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  • 122k
8 votes

How are the most sensitive seismometers on Mars protected from the most powerful jackhammer on Mars just a few feet away?

It survived launching, entry into the Martian atmosphere and landing. I don't imagine it needs much protection from the someone hitting the ground next to it... It messes with the readings, but that ...
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  • 3,382
7 votes
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Moment of Inertia of a planet

In this case L is not constant. Its magnitude is, but its direction isn't: it's precessing. Torque is the derivative of angular momentum with respect to time, so if you know the precession rate, you ...
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