InSight Sol 26 image taken by Instrument Context Camera (ICC), acquired on December 23, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s newest Mars lander is continuing to install on the Red Planet a set of scientific devices via its robotic arm.

New imagery shows the robotic arm departing the recently planted seismometer provided by France.

The InSight team worked on leveling the seismometer, which is sitting on ground that is tilted 2 to 3 degrees.

InSight Sol 26 image of tether taken by Instrument Deployment Camera (IDC) on December 23, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Seismometer data flow

The first seismometer science data should begin to flow back to Earth after the seismometer is in the right position.

Also underway is adjusting the seismometer’s long, wire-lined tether to minimize noise that could travel along it to the seismometer.

Then, in early January, engineers expect to command the robotic arm to place the Wind and Thermal Shield over the seismometer to stabilize the environment around the sensors.

The wind and thermal shield (WTS).
Credit: Agence Idé/CNES).

Heat probe

Assuming that there are no unexpected issues, the InSight team plans to deploy Germany’s HP3 heat probe onto the Martian surface by late January.

HP3 will be on the east side of the lander’s work space, roughly the same distance away from the lander as the seismometer.

Wind shield

The wind and thermal shield (WTS) consists of an aerodynamically shaped aluminum cover with a honeycomb structure to which is attached a gold-coated thermal skirt.

The whole assembly rests on three legs that are to deploy automatically once the robotic arm lifts the dome off the lander’s platform.

Artist concept showing the protective role of the wind and thermal shield (WTS) at the martian surface.
Credit: IPGP/David Ducros

The WTS will be brought to above the seismometer, now deployed on the ground, before being slowly lowered.

Despite its design, the WTS could be struck by violent gusts of wind or a dust devil, forces that might dislodge or even lift the dome, causing it to fly away.

The shield has nonetheless been developed to withstand squalls of 60 meters per second and should even be able to survive winds of 100 meters per second.

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