Artist’s concept. InSight’s landing spot, Elysium Planitia.Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

Just plain blah.

That’s a reasonable description for the unremarkable destination of the InSight spacecraft, now hours away from a Mars touchdown.

“The biggest parking lot on Mars,” says NASA.

“Smooth and flat,” says Matt Golombek of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Indeed, Elysium Planitia—the landing spot slightly north of the Martian equator—is monotonous, not mountainous; a sandy plain that’s hopelessly plain.

“A place that doesn’t have big cliffs or big craters,” says Golombek. “Not too many steep slopes, not too many rocks.”

Exactly what NASA wants.

“Although I’d never call it boring,” adds Golombek, the geologist who leads the mission’s landing site team. “Dull is in the eye of the beholder.”

Particularly when going deep: Once deployed, InSight plans to poke five meters—about 16 feet—beneath the dreary landscape.

Plunge that far or thereabouts, and NASA might fathom the subsurface secrets of Mars.

An image of the landing site, taken by the Mars Odyssey orbiter.Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / ASU

The location of InSight’s landing spot, 373 miles from the Curiosity rover.Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

For virtually any vehicle, flat ground is reliable floor. Obstructions are perilous.

Land on a large rock, and InSight is prone to puncture; arrive on a steep slope, and it may tilt or tip over. Settle on a surface that can’t handle the load—some Martian dust is “extremely fluffy,” says Golombek—and the spacecraft “could effectively disappear.”

Which is why the touchdown spot, dull or not, works. None of the above scenarios are likely there. This is the best place we could find,” he says.

NASA’s search for the site took about three-and-a-half years. Using the Mars orbiters, scientists imaged Elysium Planitia systematically and exhaustively; the 150 high-resolution pictures proved indispensable.

“We have tremendously detailed information,” says Golombek. We measured the slopes. The crater distribution. The shadows of the rocks. You don’t gamble on a landing site.”

Now, the InSight team—with reasonable confidence—can identify most anything in the area thats approximately a meter in size.

“That’s something like the size of your desk,” says Golombek.

But Elysium Planitia offers no guarantees.

“Once we land,” he says, “then we’ll know how well we did.”

Simulation: InSight touching down.Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

Unlike the Mars rovers, InSight doesn’t wander. Instead, the probe stays put.

The mission, literally a groundbreaking one, plumbs the mysterious Martian interior; two instruments on the spacecraft will go deep inside Mars.

A seismometer, housed in a sphere the size of a volleyball, will detect landslides, dust storms, meteor strikes, and Marsquakes.

A self-hammering mechanical mole, connected to temperature sensors, will discover how much heat is exiting the planet‘s interior.

Now the hard part.

For Insight, rocks below the surface are just as tricky as the rocks above.

Take the mole. Fine for tunneling through Martian soil. Fine for small rocks four to five inches across (the mole just shoves them out of the way). Not so fine with anything much larger, although sometimes the mole can manage to maneuver past, finagle through.

But theres a limit. “It can’t go directly through hard, intact rock,” says Golombek. If the mole collides with a big flat one, it stops.

Equally scarythe mole has one shot only at the point-of-entry, no do-overs.

“One time in, and that’s it,” he says.

Still, NASA says a 16-foot descent—or more—is doable.

“That’s a fairly high probability,” predicts Golombek.

“But you never know for sure.”

Artist’s concept. InSight will investigate the inner structure of Mars — its crust, mantle, and core.Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

If InSight deciphers the Martian interior, scientists can deduce the early history of Mars. They may figure out how rocky planets formed and evolved over billions of years. Clues to how life ignites on a world—or fizzles out—will emerge.

That evidence is long-lost on Earth, a geologically dynamic place that wiped out much of its past. But Mars remains much the way it was eons ago.

“It’s all wrapped up in the geology,” Golombek says.

Unwrap, and we might ultimately understand the birth of the Earth. Nothing blah about that.

On A Mission“—the new podcast series on InSight’s journey to Mars, presented by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory—is here.

Artist impression. InSight lander on Martian surface.Credit: NASA / GSCF

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Artist’s idea. InSight’s landing area, Elysium Planitia. Credit: NASA/ JPL-Caltech

Simply plain blah.

That’s an affordable description for the plain location of the InSight spacecraft, now hours far from a Mars goal

” The greatest parking area on Mars,” states NASA.

” Smooth and flat,” states Matt Golombek of the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, California.

Undoubtedly, Elysium Planitia– the landing area somewhat north of the Martian equator– is tedious, not mountainous; a sandy plain that’s hopelessly plain.

” A location that does not have huge cliffs or huge craters,” states Golombek. “Few high slopes, few rocks.”

(************ )

Precisely what NASA desires.

” Although I ‘d never ever call it uninteresting, “includes Golombek, the geologist who leads the objective’s landing website group. “Dull remains in the eye of the beholder.”

Especially when going deep: As soon as released, InSight prepares to poke 5 meters– about 16 feet– below the bleak landscape.

Plunge that far or thereabouts, and NASA may fathom the subsurface tricks of Mars.

(****** )

(******** )(********* )A picture of the landing website, taken by the Mars Odyssey orbiter. Credit: NASA/ JPL-Caltech/ ASU

The place of InSight’s landing area,373 miles from the Interest rover. Credit: NASA/ JPL-Caltech

(************* )

(******************** )For essentially any car, flat ground is trustworthy flooring. Blockages are risky.

(******************** )Arrive at a big rock, and InSight is vulnerable to pierce; get here on a high slope, and it might tilt or topple. Choose a surface area that can’t deal with the load– some Martian dust is “very fluffy,” states Golombek– and the spacecraft “might successfully vanish.”

Which is why the goal area, dull or not, works. None of the above circumstances are likely there. This is the very best location we might discover,” he states.

NASA’s look for the website took about three-and-a-half years. Utilizing the Mars orbiters, researchers imaged Elysium Planitia methodically and extensively; the 150 high-resolution photos showed important.

” We have actually greatly detailed info,” states Golombek We determined the slopes. The crater circulation. The shadows of the rocks. You do not bet on a landing website.”

Now, the InSight group– with sensible self-confidence– can recognize most anything in the location that s around a meter in size.

” That’s something like the size of your desk,” states Golombek.

However Elysium Planitia uses no warranties.

” As soon as we land,” he states, “then we’ll understand how well we did.”

Simulation: InSight touching down. Credit: NASA/ JPL-Caltech

Unlike the Mars rovers, InSight does not roam. Rather, the probe sits tight.

The objective, actually a groundbreaking one, plumbs the strange Martian interior; 2 instruments on the spacecraft will go deep inside Mars.

A seismometer, housed in a sphere the size of a beach ball, will discover landslides, dust storms, meteor strikes, and Marsquakes.

A self-hammering mechanical mole, linked to temperature level sensing units, will find just how much heat is leaving the world‘s interior.

Now the difficult part.

For Insight, rocks listed below the surface area are simply as challenging as the rocks above.

Take the mole. Fine for tunneling through Martian soil. Fine for little rocks 4 to 5 inches throughout (the mole simply pushes them out of the method). Not so great with anything much bigger, although in some cases the mole can handle to steer previous, finagle through.

However there s a limitation. “It can’t go straight through hard, undamaged rock,” states Golombek. If the mole hits a huge flat one, it stops.

Similarly frightening the mole has one shot just at the point-of-entry, no do-overs.

” One time in, which’s it,” he states.

Still, NASA states a 16- foot descent– or more– is workable.

” That’s a relatively high possibility,” anticipates Golombek.

” However you never ever understand for sure.”

Artist’s idea. InSight will examine the inner structure of Mars– its crust, mantle, and core. Credit: NASA/ JPL-Caltech

If InSight understands the Martian interior, researchers can deduce the early history of Mars. They might determine how rocky worlds formed and progressed over billions of years. Ideas to how life sparks on a world– or dies– will emerge.

That proof is long-lost in the world, a geologically vibrant location that erased much of its past. However Mars stays much the method it was eons back.

” It’s all involved the geology,” Golombek states.

Unwrap, and we may eventually comprehend the birth of the Earth. Absolutely nothing blah about that.

On An Objective“– the brand-new podcast series on InSight’s journey to Mars, provided by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab– is here

Artist impression. InSight lander on Martian surface area. Credit: NASA/ GSCF

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15271565495″ >

.

.

Artist’s idea. InSight’s landing area, Elysium Planitia. Credit: NASA/ JPL-Caltech

.

.

Simply plain blah.

That’s an affordable description for the plain location of the InSight spacecraft, now hours far from a Mars goal

.

“The greatest parking area on Mars,” states NASA.

“Smooth and flat,” states Matt Golombek of the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, California.

Undoubtedly, Elysium Planitia– the landing area somewhat north of the Martian equator– is tedious, not mountainous; a sandy plain that’s hopelessly plain.

“A location that does not have huge cliffs or huge craters,” states Golombek. “Few high slopes, few rocks.”

Precisely what NASA desires.

“Although I ‘d never ever call it uninteresting,” includes Golombek, the geologist who leads the objective’s landing website group. “Dull remains in the eye of the beholder.”

Especially when going deep: As soon as released, InSight prepares to poke 5 meters– about 16 feet– below the bleak landscape.

Plunge that far or thereabouts, and NASA may fathom the subsurface tricks of Mars.

.

.

A picture of the landing website, taken by the Mars Odyssey orbiter. Credit: NASA/ JPL-Caltech/ ASU

.

.

.

.

The place of InSight’s landing area, 373 miles from the Interest rover. Credit: NASA/ JPL-Caltech

.

.

For essentially any car, flat ground is trustworthy flooring. Blockages are risky.

Arrive at a big rock, and InSight is vulnerable to pierce; get here on a high slope, and it might tilt or topple. Choose a surface area that can’t deal with the load– some Martian dust is “very fluffy,” states Golombek– and the spacecraft “might successfully vanish.”

Which is why the goal area, dull or not, works. None of the above circumstances are likely there. This is the very best location we might discover,” he states.

NASA’s look for the website took about three-and-a-half years. Utilizing the Mars orbiters, researchers imaged Elysium Planitia methodically and extensively; the 150 high-resolution photos showed important.

“We have actually greatly detailed info, ” states Golombek We determined the slopes. The crater circulation. The shadows of the rocks. You do not bet on a landing website.”

Now, the InSight group– with sensible self-confidence– can recognize most anything in the location that s around a meter in size.

“That’s something like the size of your desk,” states Golombek.

However Elysium Planitia uses no warranties.

“As soon as we land,” he states, “then we’ll understand how well we did.”

.

.

Simulation: InSight touching down. Credit: NASA/ JPL-Caltech

.

.

Unlike the Mars rovers, InSight does not roam. Rather, the probe sits tight.

The objective, actually a groundbreaking one, plumbs the strange Martian interior; 2 instruments on the spacecraft will go deep inside Mars.

A seismometer, housed in a sphere the size of a beach ball, will discover landslides, dust storms, meteor strikes, and Marsquakes.

A self-hammering mechanical mole, linked to temperature level sensing units, will find just how much heat is leaving the world ‘s interior.

Now the difficult part.

For Insight, rocks listed below the surface area are simply as challenging as the rocks above.

Take the mole. Fine for tunneling through Martian soil. Fine for little rocks 4 to 5 inches throughout (the mole simply pushes them out of the method). Not so great with anything much bigger, although in some cases the mole can handle to steer previous, finagle through.

However there s a limitation. “It can’t go straight through hard, undamaged rock,” states Golombek. If the mole hits a huge flat one, it stops.

Similarly frightening the mole has one shot just at the point-of-entry, no do-overs.

“One time in, which’s it,” he states.

Still, NASA states a 16 – foot descent– or more– is workable.

“That’s a relatively high possibility,” anticipates Golombek.

“However you never ever understand for sure.”

.

.

Artist’s idea. InSight will examine the inner structure of Mars– its crust, mantle, and core. Credit: NASA/ JPL-Caltech

.

.

If InSight understands the Martian interior, researchers can deduce the early history of Mars. They might determine how rocky worlds formed and progressed over billions of years. Ideas to how life sparks on a world– or dies– will emerge.

That proof is long-lost in the world, a geologically vibrant location that erased much of its past. However Mars stays much the method it was eons back.

“It’s all involved the geology,” Golombek states.

Unwrap, and we may eventually comprehend the birth of the Earth. Absolutely nothing blah about that.

On An Objective “– the brand-new podcast series on InSight’s journey to Mars, provided by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab– is here

.

.

Artist impression. InSight lander on Martian surface area. Credit: NASA/ GSCF

.

.

.