AUG 22, 2018 7:45 PM PDT

NASA's InSight Spacecraft is Halfway to Mars, and Everything is Working

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Just this week, NASA announced a significant milestone regarding the space agency’s InSight mission. The spacecraft, which launched from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base back in May, officially passed the halfway mark to Mars on August 6th.

An artist's impression of the InSight spacecraft as it moves through space.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA says that the InSight spacecraft has traveled more than 172 million miles through space and performed two trajectory correction maneuvers as of August 20th. It now has just 129 million miles to go before it reaches its destination and attempts a landing in Mars’ Elysium Planitia region to begin scientific operations.

As InSight closes in on its target, NASA engineers are spending their remaining time wisely by remotely testing the spacecraft’s onboard instruments and cameras. One of the most recent remote hardware tests confirmed that all of InSight’s onboard instruments are in good health and working correctly.

The remote hardware test involved capturing test readings from the spacecraft’s Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3) and its Rotation and Interior Structure Experiment (RISE). Engineers also connected to the spacecraft’s camera to take a selfie of its internal components. You can see the resulting photograph below:

The selfie taken by InSight's onboard camera system.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

As you might expect, conducting these remote hardware tests requires the use of the spacecraft’s onboard radio. Given that NASA was able to communicate with the InSight spacecraft and download its selfie, we’d be inclined to say that the radio equipment is working well too.

"We did our final performance checks on July 19, which were successful," said Bruce Banerdt, principal investigator of InSight from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "We have been using the spacecraft's radio since launch day, and our conversations with InSight have been very cordial, so we are good to go with RISE as well."

Related: Mars' dust storm is clearing up, sparking hope for reviving NASA's Opportunity rover

With everything working correctly and the InSight spacecraft well on its way to Mars, we can safely assume that it will land on Mars on November 26th as expected. Furthermore, InSight will investigate Mars’ sub-surface seismic activity, internal planetary temperature, and orbital wobble characteristics once it situates after landing.

InSight won’t be taking any more selfies during its trip; in fact, NASA won’t use the camera again until the spacecraft officially reaches Mars. There, it will snap several pictures of the planet’s surface and beam them back to scientists on Earth for analysis.

In what appears to be good news for NASA and the InSight team, it looks like it won’t be long before we get to learn more about our red planetary neighbor.

Source: NASA

About the Author
Other
Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
SEP 17, 2022
Space & Astronomy
Perseverance's MOXIE Experiment Creates Oxygen on The Red Planet
Perseverance's MOXIE Experiment Creates Oxygen on The Red Planet
In a recent study published in Science Advances, a team of researchers led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology ...
OCT 01, 2022
Space & Astronomy
Climate Change Will Affect Ground-Based Astronomical Observatories
Climate Change Will Affect Ground-Based Astronomical Observatories
In a paper recently published in Astronomy & Astrophysics, astronomers at the University of Bern stress that anthrop ...
OCT 22, 2022
Space & Astronomy
Binary Pair of Stars Creates "Fingerprint" in Space
Binary Pair of Stars Creates "Fingerprint" in Space
A new paper published in Nature Astronomy includes a new image from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) that ...
NOV 02, 2022
Space & Astronomy
ESA's Solar Orbiter Captures Extraordinary Views of the Quiet Corona
ESA's Solar Orbiter Captures Extraordinary Views of the Quiet Corona
On October 12, 2022, the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Solar Orbiter mission had its second close encounter with t ...
NOV 11, 2022
Chemistry & Physics
Grad Student Highlights: Andrew Saydjari (Harvard University)
Grad Student Highlights: Andrew Saydjari (Harvard University)
This interview series is focused on the graduate student experience across all STEM fields that allows them to get their ...
JAN 22, 2023
Space & Astronomy
Gaia Discovers a Planet Undergoing Fusion
Gaia Discovers a Planet Undergoing Fusion
An international team of scientists led by Sasha Hinkley at the University of Exeter have used the European Space Agency ...
Loading Comments...