CALIFORNIA – In almost six hours from now, NASA’s InSight Martian lander will enter the atmosphere of the Red Planet to study its internal structure and the evolution of its geology through ages.
“InSight will conduct the first-ever seismic study of Mars’s interior. Proud of my colleagues at the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (IPGP) for the 12-year hard work on InSight’s main instrument, SEIS; the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure,” Dr. Essam Heggy, an Egyptian Muslim astronomer and staff scientist at IPGP, said [in Arabic] while congratulating his fellow colleagues, on Nov 26.
The mission, which was launched on May 5, 2018, at 11:05 UTC, is expected to land today on the surface of Mars at the region named Elysium Planitia at approximately 8 pm UTC after a journey of nearly 483 million km.
“More than half of all Mars missions have failed to arrive safely at the Red Planet over the years, so we are anxious about today’s events. I am completely excited and completely nervous, all at the same time,” InSight project manager Tom Hoffman expressed on November 25 during a news conference here at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), New York Post reported.
“Everything we’ve done to date makes us feel comfortable and confident we’re going to land on Mars. But everything has to go perfectly, and Mars could always throw us a curveball,” Hoffman concluded.
Martian Seismology for 1st Time
InSight Lander will deploy the SEIS seismometer and burrow a heat probe called Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3).
It will also perform a series of radio science experiments via six other instruments to complement the studies of the internal structure and rotation of Mars.
SEIS will take precise measurements of quakes and other internal activity on Mars and investigate how the Martian crust and mantle respond to the effects of meteorite impacts.
SEIS was provided by the French Space Agency (CNES), with the participation of IPGP, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS), Imperial College, Institut supérieur de l’aéronautique et de l’espace (ISAE) and JPL.
Heggy, 42, the Muslim Egyptian planetary scientist at the Radar Science Group of NASA’ JPL has been an Associate Professor at IPGP between 2006 and 2010. He’s also a Visiting Associate in Geology at the California Institute of Technology.
In fact, you can watch InSight Martian landing live through this NASA channel: