Surface Operations

Artist's Concept of InSight on Mars

Surface Operations

Surface operations begin one minute after landing at Elysium Planitia on Mars. InSight's prime mission on the surface is for one Martian year (approximately 2 Earth years); 708 Mars days, or sols, which is equal to 728 Earth days.

Some science data collection begins the first week after landing.  InSight takes about 10 weeks from landing to complete the placement of instruments on the surface of Mars.  The heat probe deploys and burrows to its full depth about seven weeks later.  After that, the lander sits still and collects data from the instruments.

After the dust from landing settles (about 16 minutes later), the motors for InSight's solar arrays warm up and prepare to unfurl its solar panels. This is an important activity that ensures that InSight has all the power it needs for surface operations.  This and other tasks on landing day take place autonomously, without human intervention.

Other checkouts on landing day include:

  • checking the lander's health indicators
  • taking a wide-angle image toward the south
  • powering down to "sleep" mode for the first night on Mars

For more information on what occurs during this phase, see Science and Instruments.