InSight Lander


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    Lander | Robotic Arm | Cameras

    NASA's InSight lander opens a window into the "inner space" of Mars. Its instruments peer deeper than ever into the Martian subsurface, seeking the signatures of the processes that shaped the rocky planets of the inner Solar System, more than four billion years ago. InSight's findings are expected to shed light on the formation of Mars, Earth, and even rocky exoplanets.

    The lander builds on the proven design of NASA's Mars Phoenix lander. InSight's robotic arm is over 5 feet 9 inches (1.8 meters) long. It lifts a seismometer and heat flow probe from the deck and places them on the surface. The camera on the arm will provide color 3D views of the landing site, instrument placement, and activities. Sensors measure weather and magnetic field variations.

    Tech Specs

    Length 19 feet 8 inches (6 meters) with solar panels deployed ("wingspan")
    Width 5 feet 1 inch (1.56 meters) (lander deck diameter)
    Deck Height 33 to 43 inches (83 to 108 centimeters)
    Length of Robotic Arm 5 feet 9 inches (1.8 meters)
    Weight 794 pounds (360 kilograms)
    Electrical Power Two solar panels, about 7 feet (2.2 meters) each in diameter
    Science Instruments 3 (a seismometer, heat probe and a radio science experiment)

    Robotic Arm

    The lander uses the Instrument Deployment Arm (IDA) to place the instruments on the ground. The lander's sensitive instruments are able to obtain their best measurements in direct contact with the Martian surface. Upon landing, Insight's solar panels deploy and its cameras survey the landing site.

    The arm is 5 feet 9 inches (1.8 meters) long, with shoulder, elbow and wrist joints and four motors. The grapple is at the end of the arm. The arm-mounted camera is between the elbow and wrist.

    The arm deploys the heat flow probe - a mole that burrows 16 feet (five meters) into the ground. That's deeper than any instrument that has ever been to Mars. The arm also places the seismometer on the surface, from where it can sense Marsquakes in action.

    The robotic arm includes a grapple for grasping each piece of hardware the arm will lift. The grapple's five mechanical fingers can close around a handle that resembles a ball on top of a stem. Each of the three items the arm will lift has one of these handles. The three are the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure, the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package, and the seismometer's Wind and Thermal Shield.

    Tech Specs

    Main Function To place SEIS, the seismometer, and HP3, the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package, on the surface of Mars
    5 feet 9 inches (1.8 meters)
    Degrees of Freedom There are three (a shoulder, elbow and wrist joints) with four motors.
    Tools on Arm The arm has a grapple at the end of the arm. The arm-mounted camera is between the elbow and wrist.
    Location Attached to the lander deck


    The InSight lander carries two complementary engineering cameras that help with navigation and hazard avoidance. One of the cameras is mounted on the arm; the other on the front of the lander.

    Camera on Arm

    A camera on the arm is called the Instrument Deployment Camera (IDC). It is similar to the Navcam navigation cameras onboard the Opportunity and Curiosity rovers, with full color capability added. It has a 45-degree field of view, and provides a panoramic view of the terrain surrounding the landing site. This camera will image the workspace in detail to support the selection of the best spots to place down the instruments. This camera will take color images of the instruments on the lander's deck and a 3-D view of the region around the lander. Information received from the Navcam helps engineers and scientists guide the deployment of the seismometer and the heat flow probe. Scientists can point the camera in any direction, so it can take images to be combined into a 360-degree panorama of the lander's surroundings.

    Camera on Lander Body

    The lander's other camera, the Instrument Context Camera (ICC), is mounted just below the deck, on the edge of the lander facing the workspace, which is the area of ground within reach of the arm. The ICC has a "fisheye" field of view of 120 degrees. It will provide wide-angle views of the entire workspace.

    Like the Navcam, it is based on a similar camera on Opportunity and Curiosity. It is mounted under the edge of the lander's deck and provides a complementary view of the instrument deployment area.

    Both cameras have a square charge-coupled device (CCD) detector 1,024 pixels by 1,024 pixels.

    Tech Specs

    Number of Cameras 2 color cameras (one is a "fisheye")
    Main Function To help the lander find the best location for its instruments within the landing site
    Location One just below the rover deck, the other one at the end of the robotic arm.
    Image Size 1,024 pixels by 1,024 pixels