InSight lander settles into its Martian ‘sandbox’

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Now when the Insight lander has been able to settle on Mars, scientists are learning a bit more about the spot it’s in. With its 7-foot-wide fully deployed solar panels, it has already been able to set a record for the most amount of energy generated within a single day by any of the lander or rover on Mars at 4,588 wH. Also, the protective covers are known to be coming off of its cameras, which should be able to generate higher-resolution images.

Fortunately, when the lander is tilted at an angle of 4-degree within its impact crater, it’s designed in such a way that it can operate at up to a tilt of 15-degrees. Any more tilt can actually prevent the panels from opening, and they’re required to generate ample energy during its 2 year mission toperate all of the instruments, even as dirt and dust flying around on Mars begins to cover them.

Next up? Picking out spots for deploying its subsurface heat-flow probe. As told by the project manager Tom Hoffman, “There are no runways or landing pads on Mars, so coming down to an area which is basically a large sandbox without any kind of large rocks should be able to make instrument deployment a lot easier, thus providing a great place for our mole in order to begin burrowing.”

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