Nasa’s in­cred­i­ble Mars land­ing

Nasa’s lat­est mis­sion to the Red Planet is a feat of science and en­gi­neer­ing

YOU (South Africa) - - CONTENTS - BY RICHARD VAN RENS­BURG In­stru­ment de­ploy­ment cam­era This cam­era, mounted on the in­stru­ment de­ploy­ment arm, helps en­sure in­stru­ments are cor­rectly de­ployed and pro­vides de­tailed im­ages of the work area.

THE ten­sion was al­most too much to bear. While the flight con­troller per­formed the count­down, sci­en­tists and en­gi­neers sat on the edge of their seats at the Nasa con­trol cen­tre in Pasadena, Cal­i­for­nia, hold­ing their breath.

“Alti­tude 400m . . . 300m . . . 200m . . . 80m . . .”

As the In­Sight robotic ex­plorer made its de­scent to the sur­face of Mars there was so much at stake. For sev­eral ter­ri­fy­ing mo­ments hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars and decades of hard work hung in the bal­ance.

The mis­sion could ei­ther her­ald the start of a ground­break­ing new era of space ex­plo­ration or it could end in tears with wreck­age on the Red Planet.

And then at last: “Touch­down con­firmed”.

With that, cheers and cries of ju­bi­la­tion erupted in the room. And now with the suc­cess­ful land­ing, Nasa and its in­ter­na­tional part­ners are ready for an ex­cit­ing new chap­ter.

Nasa staff couldn’t help but cheer when many years of hard work paid off as In­Sight suc­cess­fully landed. SEIS (Seis­mic Ex­per­i­ment for In­te­rior Struc­ture) The SEIS seis­mome­ter, which is pro­tected by a wind and sun shield, mea­sures the vi­bra­tions caused by the in­ter­nal ac­tiv­ity of Mars to il­lu­mi­nate the prop­er­ties of the crust, man­tle and core. It will mea­sure the planet’s “pulse” by study­ing waves cre­ated by quakes, thumps of me­te­orite im­pacts, and even sur­face vi­bra­tions gen­er­ated by ac­tiv­ity in Mars’ at­mos­phere and by weather phe­nom­ena such as dust storms.

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