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InSight to deploy its second sensor to measure heat

InSight
InSight is preparing to deploy its heat sensors

NASA’s InSight rover has deployed its second sensor, named Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package or HP3.

InSight rover has already placed and fortified its first sensor, the SEIS seismograph which helps it measure the subsurface tremors or Marsquakes. Marsquakes are similar to Earthquakes except it is on Mars.

Now the HPis helping NASA scientists to measure the subsurface heat transfers. This will help them understand the energy requirement needed to form a rocky world.

HP3 InSight sensor

The HP3 is equipped with a self-hammering spike which can dig upto 5 meters below the surface.

We’re looking forward to breaking some records on Mars
HP3 Principal Investigator Tilman Spohn of the German Aerospace Center (DLR)

The spike nicknamed “mole”, if successfully digs to its capability it will shatter the previous record of the deepest dig which currently stands at only 22 cm by NASA’s Viking 1 lander.

The mole which is operated using the solar-powered battery, will dig in sprints of 51 cm before recharging using the solar cells. It will take approximate a month to dig to the maximum depth.

The team has selected the landing site carefully so the digging doesn’t hit a rock. If it does hit a rock before reaching 3 meters the team will have to keep measuring for two Earth years to get reliable data. This is because 1 Martian year is equal to two Earth year and the scientists will have to take measurements throughout the Martian year to filter out the noise.

“We picked the ideal landing site, with almost no rocks at the surface,” said JPL’s Troy Hudson, a scientist and engineer who helped design HP3. “That gives us reason to believe there aren’t many large rocks in the subsurface. But we have to wait and see what we’ll encounter underground.”

That thing weighs less than a pair of shoes, uses less power than a Wi-Fi router and has to dig at least 10 feet [3 meters] on another planet,
JPL’s Troy Hudson, a scientist and engineer who helped design HP3

What is InSight doing on Mars?

InSight is deemed to be a an important mission by NASA scientists in the bid to understand how the internal mechanisms of a planet work on Mars specifically.

It will relay back data stream from its 3 sensors.

a) A seismometer to measure plate an and quakes (marsquakes) emanating from the Mars’ interior or caused by external factors like meteors etc.

b) A heat sensor to detect the heat flow from beneath the surface of of Mars.

c) Track and locate the magnetic North Pole of Mars.

This will help scientists study the structure of the planet, evolution and differences with Earth.

Source: NASA/JPL

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