On May 5, 2018, NASA’s latest Mars lander was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base on its journey to the Red Planet. The primary objective of InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy, and Heat Transport) is to illuminate the fundamentals of formation and evolution of terrestrial planets by investigating the interior structure and processes of Mars. On November 26, 2018, the InSight flight system arrived at Mars and meticulously executed necessary activities to safely touch down. The primary science instrument (a seismometer) has been successfully placed on the Martian soil using the robotic arm and the secondary payload (a heat flow probe) is begin prepared for its deployment next month. Science operations are scheduled to last through November 2020.
This month’s presentation highlights the key spacecraft design challenges for the development team, discusses the major events during the integration and test campaign, and details the sequence of events during entry/descent/landing (aka seven minutes of terror).