Category Archives: Mars Exploration

Instrument Context Camera on Mars

Here’s a look at InSight’s seismometer on Mars, taken just yesterday. I believe he instrument was supposed to start taking data about now, but no updates to confirm that. Sooner or later we’ll hear something, I’m not even sure how much of the mission team is working – given the current state of things politically. I have a good feeling the mission team(s) are very anxious to get back to normal.

NASA — NASA’s InSight Mars lander acquired this image of the area in front of the lander using its lander-mounted, Instrument Context Camera (ICC).

This image was acquired on January 15, 2019, Sol 48 of the InSight mission where the local mean solar time for the image exposures was 17:40:01.089 PM. Each ICC image has a field of view of 124 x 124 degrees.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

By the way, in an unrelated story, Hubble has resumed the use of the Wide Field Camera 3 after it went to a safe-mode state a few days ago. Apparently software detected voltage being out of range and prompted the event. After resetting certain circuits everything seemed to be operating at normal limits and the camera was put back into operation.

For a larger version of the Insight image above click here.

InSight On Mars

Very nice image from the surface of Mars from the InSight Lander, thanks to NASA and JPL-Caltech. Do you know what that hexagonal copper colored box is? Its the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure instrument or SEIS and at some point soon will be placed on the surface and it apparently functions properly because it could feel vibrations from the Martian wind – see here.

Marsquakes? I hope so, but we will have to wait and see.

NASA: This image from InSight’s robotic-arm mounted Instrument Deployment Camera shows the instruments on the spacecraft’s deck, with the Martian surface of Elysium Planitia in the background.

The color-calibrated picture was acquired on Dec. 4, 2018 (Sol 8). In the foreground, a copper-colored hexagonal cover protects the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure instrument (SEIS), a seismometer that will measure marsquakes. The gray dome behind SEIS is the wind and thermal shield, which will be placed over SEIS. To the left is a black cylindrical instrument, the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Probe (HP3). HP3 will drill up to 16 feet (5 meters) below the Martian surface, measuring heat released from the interior of the planet. Above the deck is InSight’s robotic arm, with the stowed grapple directly facing the camera.

To the right can be seen a small portion of one of the two solar panels that help power InSight and part of the UHF communication antenna.

JPL manages InSight for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. InSight is part of NASA’s Discovery Program, managed by the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

A number of European partners, including France’s Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES) and the German Aerospace Center (DLR), are supporting the InSight mission. CNES, and the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (IPGP), provided the SEIS instrument, with significant contributions from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS) in Germany, the Swiss Institute of Technology (ETH) in Switzerland, Imperial College and Oxford University in the United Kingdom, and JPL. DLR provided the HP3 instrument, with significant contributions from the Space Research Center (CBK) of the Polish Academy of Sciences and Astronika in Poland. Spain’s Centro de Astrobiologí­a (CAB) supplied the wind sensors.

For more information about the mission, go to

InSight IDC Cam First Light

Nice first-light image from InSight’s Instrument Deployment Camera (IDC) camera courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech.
No word yet on what the ground under the lander is like, there is some rock by the looks from this view. One of the experiments needs to basically drill down into the ground but it cannot drill through rock, so we will wait and see.

Anyway, a very nice images indeed and click it to see a larger version.

Here’s the caption released by NASA: The Instrument Deployment Camera (IDC), located on the robotic arm of NASA’s InSight lander, took this picture off the Martian surface on Nov. 26, 2018, the same day the spacecraft touched down on the Red Planet. The camera’s transparent dust cover is still on in this image, to prevent particulates kicked up during landing from settling on the camera’s lens. This image was relayed from InSight to Earth via NASA’s Odyssey spacecraft, currently orbiting Mars.

InSight Landing Coverage – Replay

Here’s a replay from Fox 10 Phoenix. Fox 10 Phoenix shows quite a lot of news and quite often police chases.

Good Luck InSight!!

MarCo’s are working well!

600 meters and it looks pretty good!

TOUCHDOWN!!!! The emotion in the control room was spectacular as you might expect.

Now how well is the spacecraft?

Apparently pretty good we now have an image as you can see.

Waiting for the “phone home” event. Ah it it seems InSight is “happy”, great job/event!

InSight Ready to Land on Mars

Tomorrow is the day! InSight lands on Mars! Coverage should be pretty easy to find, we will of course have it so if you cannot get NASA TV, check in here at 09:00 UTC / 14:00 ET for a mirror of NASA’s Public channel

NASA also posted a time line of spacecraft actions I thought was pretty interesting, mostly because of the exactness of the timing.

I added in the UTC times below, funny NASA doesn’t do that. No matter, but if I mess up the conversions, it’s my error and not NASA’s. Remember the Beagles! (LOL)

Here’s the time line NASA published:
11:40 a.m. PST (2:40 p.m. EST / 19:40 UTC) — Separation from the cruise stage that carried the mission to Mars
11:41 a.m. PST (2:41 p.m. EST / 19:41 UTC) — Turn to orient the spacecraft properly for atmospheric entry
11:47 a.m. PST (2:47 p.m. EST / 19:47 UTC) — Atmospheric entry at about 12,300 mph (19,800 kph), beginning the entry, descent and landing phase
11:49 a.m. PST (2:49 p.m. EST / 19:49 UTC) — Peak heating of the protective heat shield reaches about 2,700°F (about 1,500°C)
15 seconds later — Peak deceleration, with the intense heating causing possible temporary dropouts in radio signals
11:51 a.m. PST (2:51 p.m. EST / 19:51 UTC) — Parachute deployment
15 seconds later — Separation from the heat shield
10 seconds later — Deployment of the lander’s three legs
11:52 a.m. PST (2:52 p.m. EST / 19:52 UTC) — Activation of the radar that will sense the distance to the ground
11:53 a.m. PST (2:53 p.m. EST / 19:53 UTC) — First acquisition of the radar signal
20 seconds later — Separation from the back shell and parachute
0.5 second later — The retrorockets, or descent engines, begin firing
2.5 seconds later — Start of the “gravity turn” to get the lander into the proper orientation for landing
22 seconds later — InSight begins slowing to a constant velocity (from 17 mph to a constant 5 mph, or from 27 kph to 8 kph) for its soft landing
11:54 a.m. PST (2:54 p.m. EST / 19:54 UTC) — Expected touchdown on the surface of Mars
12:01 p.m. PST (3:01 p.m. EST / 20:01 UTC) — “Beep” from InSight’s X-band radio directly back to Earth, indicating InSight is alive and functioning on the surface of Mars
No earlier than 12:04 p.m. PST (3:04 p.m. EST / 20:04 UTC), but possibly the next day — First image from InSight on the surface of Mars
No earlier than 5:35 p.m. PST (8:35 p.m. EST / 01:35 UTC) — Confirmation from InSight via NASA’s Mars Odyssey orbiter that InSight’s solar arrays have deployed.