NASA's InSight Sends Back First Selfie On Mars

NASA's InSight Sends Back First Selfie On Mars”

NASA's new Mars lander has taken a selfie from above, using a camera on its long robotic arm. It gives a detailed look at the lander's solar panels, as well as all the advanced surface mapping and analysis instruments it has onboard. "Visible in the selfie are the lander's solar panel and its entire deck, including its science instruments". The selfie was taken on December 6, 2018 (Sol 10).

Recall, November 26, the us space probe InSight has successfully sat on Mars in the highlands area Elysium, then the machine sent the first picture of the planet. NASA selected this particular location on Mars, Elysium Planitia, because it's relatively free of rocks. The lavender-coloured areas show the best spots for the lander to place its seismometer: the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS).

Indeed, it appears that InSight landed inside an impact crater that later filled with sand, NASA officials said.

"The near-absence of rocks, hills and holes means it'll be extremely safe for our instruments", InSight Principal Investigator Bruce Banerdt said in a statement.

"This might seem like a pretty plain piece of ground if it weren't on Mars, but we're glad to see that", Mr Banerdt added. The image scientists have of that workspace is also a mosaic, created out of 52 separate images.

NASA will determine where to place InSight's instruments over the next few weeks. Mission team members have also received their first complete look at InSight's "workspace" - the almost 4-by-2-metre crescent of terrain directly in front of the spacecraft. The main thing the team is looking to avoid is any rocks larger than a half-inch which doesn't look like it will be too hard based on the image showing the lander's immediate surroundings. That should make it easier for one of InSight's instruments, the heat-flow probe, to bore down to its goal of 16 feet (5 meters) below the surface.

It's crucial for InSight to get the placement right, so mission team members have been carefully characterizing the red dirt at the lander's feet.

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