13. February 2019

In­Sight mis­sion – DLR 'Mole' de­ployed on sur­face of Mars

HP³ on the Martian surface
DLR HP³ ex­per­i­ment on the Mar­tian sur­face
Image 1/8, Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

DLR HP³ experiment on the Martian surface

On 12 Febru­ary 2019, the DLR HP³ ex­per­i­ment was de­ployed on Mars by the robot­ic arm of the NASA In­Sight lan­der.
HP³ experiment to the left of the SEIS seismometerc
HP³ ex­per­i­ment to the left of the SEIS seis­mome­ter
Image 2/8, Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

HP³ experiment to the left of the SEIS seismometer

The HP³ ex­per­i­ment is now sit­u­at­ed about one me­tre to the left of the SEIS seis­mome­ter. Both ex­per­i­ments were set down on Mars by the robot­ic arm of the NASA In­Sight lan­der.
HP³ cutaway rendering
HP³ cut­away ren­der­ing
Image 3/8, Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/DLR.

HP³ cutaway rendering

An artist's con­cept of In­Sight's heat probe, called the Heat Phys­i­cal Prop­er­ties Pack­age, or HP³.This an­no­tat­ed cut­away ren­der­ing la­bels var­i­ous parts in­side of the in­stru­ment.JPL man­ages In­Sight for NASA's Sci­ence Mis­sion Di­rec­torate. In­Sight is part of NASA's Dis­cov­ery Pro­gram, man­aged by the agen­cy's Mar­shall Space Flight Cen­ter in Huntsville, Al­aba­ma. Lock­heed Mar­tin Space in Den­ver built the In­Sight space­craft, in­clud­ing its cruise stage and lan­der, and sup­ports space­craft op­er­a­tions for the mis­sion.A num­ber of Eu­ro­pean part­ners, in­clud­ing France's Cen­tre Na­tion­al d'Études Spa­tiales (CNES) and the Ger­man Aerospace Cen­ter (DLR), are sup­port­ing the In­Sight mis­sion. CNES and the In­sti­tut de Physique du Globe de Paris (IPGP) pro­vid­ed the Seis­mic Ex­per­i­ment for In­te­ri­or Struc­ture (SEIS) in­stru­ment, with sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tions from the Max Planck In­sti­tute for So­lar Sys­tem Re­search (MPS) in Ger­many, the Swiss Fed­er­al In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­o­gy (ETH Zurich) in Zurich, Switzer­land, Im­pe­ri­al Col­lege Lon­don and Ox­ford Uni­ver­si­ty in the Unit­ed King­dom, and JPL. DLR pro­vid­ed the Phys­i­cal Prop­er­ties Pack­age (HP³) in­stru­ment, with sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tions from the Space Re­search Cen­ter (CBK) of the Pol­ish Acade­my of Sci­ences and As­tron­i­ka in Poland. Spain’s Cen­tro de As­tro­bi­ología (CAB) sup­plied the wind sen­sors.
Testing HP³
Test­ing HP³ in Ger­many
Image 4/8, Credit: DLR/NASA/JPL-Caltech.

Testing HP³ in Germany

The In­Sight mis­sion is be­ing con­duct­ed by the Jet Propul­sion Lab­o­ra­to­ry (JPL) in Pasade­na, Cal­i­for­nia, on be­half of NASA's Sci­ence Mis­sion Di­rec­torate. In­Sight is part of NASA's Dis­cov­ery Pro­gram. DLR con­tribut­ed the HP³ ex­per­i­ment to the mis­sion. Sci­en­tif­ic lead­er­ship lies with the DLR In­sti­tute of Plan­e­tary Re­search, which was al­so in charge of de­vel­op­ing the ex­per­i­ment in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the DLR in­sti­tutes of Space Sys­tems, Op­ti­cal Sen­sor Sys­tems, Space Op­er­a­tions and As­tro­naut Train­ing, Com­pos­ite Struc­tures and Adap­tive Sys­tems, Sys­tem Dy­nam­ics and Con­trol, as well as the In­sti­tute of Robotics and Mecha­tron­ics.
InSight lander on the Martian surface
'Self­ie' of the In­Sight lan­der on the Mar­tian sur­face
Image 5/8, Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

'Selfie' of the InSight lander on the Martian surface

In­Sight's first com­plete 'self­ie' on Mars. It shows the so­lar ar­rays and the plat­form of the lan­der. On the plat­form are its sci­en­tif­ic in­stru­ments and the UHF an­ten­na.
Construction of the InSight lander
The In­Sight lan­der near­ing its com­ple­tion
Image 6/8, Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltechn/Lockheed Martin Space.

The InSight lander nearing its completion

Lock­heed Mar­tin Space con­struct­ed the In­Sight lan­der for NASA. The In­Sight lan­der will car­ry two ma­jor ex­per­i­ments, the Heat Flow and Phys­i­cal Prop­er­ties Probe (HP³) and the Seis­mic Ex­per­i­ment for In­te­ri­or Struc­ture (SEIS), to Mars, where a robot­ic arm will place them be­side the space­craft af­ter land­ing.
Instruments and technical components of InSight
In­stru­ments and tech­ni­cal com­po­nents of In­Sight
Image 7/8, Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

Instruments and technical components of InSight

In­Sight’s struc­tural de­sign is sim­i­lar to that of NASA’s Phoenix lan­der from 2008. The main com­po­nent is a plat­form two me­tres in di­am­e­ter, on which most of the sys­tem com­po­nents – the ex­per­i­ments in their ‘trans­port mode’, the an­ten­nas, the on-board com­put­er, the thrusters, the pro­pel­lant tanks and three tele­scop­ic legs are at­tached. A robot­ic arm will be de­ployed af­ter land­ing and lift the ex­per­i­ments HP³ and SEIS from the plat­form on­to the Mar­tian sur­face. At the side of the plat­form are two so­lar pan­els, which pro­duce a max­i­mum of 700 watts, de­pend­ing on the dis­tance be­tween Mars and the Sun. The RISE ex­per­i­ment is con­duct­ed from the plat­form it­self.
Artist’s impression of the NASA InSight lander on the Martian surface
Artist’s im­pres­sion of the NASA In­Sight lan­der on the Mar­tian sur­face
Image 8/8, Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

Artist’s impression of the NASA InSight lander on the Martian surface

Launched on 5 May 2018, NASA’s In­Sight space­craft will land on 26 Novem­ber, just north of the Mar­tian equa­tor, and de­ploy its so­lar pan­els. SEIS, an in­stru­ment for record­ing seis­mic waves (left of im­age), and HP³, an in­stru­ment de­vel­oped by DLR to mea­sure the ther­mal con­duc­tiv­i­ty of the Mar­tian re­golith and the heat flow from the in­te­ri­or of the plan­et (right of im­age), will be placed on the sur­face of the plan­et pos­si­bly be­fore the turn of the year.
  • HP³ experiment is now in a stable position approximately 1.5 metres away from the lander
  • Heat flow from the interior of Mars will be investigated
  • Operational planning for the DLR instrument is currently underway
  • Focus: Space, exploration

It stands vertically on flat ground, ready for its historic mission. At 19:18 CET on 12 February 2019, the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP³) or 'Mole' was deployed on the Martian surface using the NASA InSight mission's robotic arm. In the coming weeks, the remote controlled penetrometer is expected to make space history by becoming the first probe to reach a depth of up to five metres in the Martian subsurface. Its goal is to measure the temperature and thermal conductivity of the subsurface and thus determine the heat flow from the interior of Mars. The heat flow gives researchers indications about the thermal activity of the Red Planet. This can provide insights into the evolution of the Martian interior, whether it still has a hot liquid core, and what makes Earth so special in comparison.

"We are pleased that the deployment of our HP³ experiment onto the Martian surface went so smoothly," says Principal Investigator Tilman Spohn from the DLR Institute of Planetary Research in Berlin. HP³ is now in a stable position approximately 1.5 metres from the lander. "We hope that the Mole will not encounter any large rocks on its way into the subsurface," Spohn says. The Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS) was deployed previously – complete with an additional cover to protect it against wind and temperature fluctuations – at a similar distance from the InSight lander. SEIS and HP³ are approximately one metre apart.

Thermal evolution of the planets and life on Earth

"From a thermophysical perspective, planets can be considered heat engines that generate volcanism, tectonics and magnetism," explains Spohn. Heat flow measurements are important boundary conditions for modelling the thermal evolution of Earth, Mars and other planets. While the seismometer and the observation of perturbations of the planet's rotation axis as part of the InSight Rotation and Interior Structure Experiment (RISE) shed light on Mars' interior structure, the measured heat flow constrains hypotheses about its evolution.

For the most part, scientists are convinced that a planet's geological evolution has great significance for its ability to host life and for the events that allow life to emerge at all. In the course of Earth's evolution, continents and oceans formed that are constantly subject to change and tectonic shifts. The shallow continental seas or the chains of volcanoes in the oceans could be the places where life emerged. Mars lacks these tectonic elements, probably because it is smaller, and also because it does not have enough water to facilitate the process of plate tectonics – as happens on Earth – over a longer time period or permanently. Mars had more water and ice in its early days than it does today and could have been hospitable to life, at least intermittently. With the help of InSight's measurements, researchers aim to gain a better understanding of the planetary-physical aspects of these complex interrelationships.

Into the depths in intervals

The Mole will pull a five-metre-long tether equipped with temperature sensors behind it into the Martian soil. After the target depth is reached, the tether's sensors will measure the temperature distribution at different depths and as it changes over time. In addition, the thermal infrared radiometer RAD on the InSight lander will measure the temperature of the Martian soil at the surface. Operational planning for the DLR instrument is currently underway.

The HP³ instrument on NASA's InSight mission

The InSight mission is being conducted by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, on behalf of NASA's Science Mission Directorate. InSight is part of NASA's Discovery Program. DLR contributed the HP³ experiment to the mission. Scientific leadership lies with the DLR Institute of Planetary Research, which was also in charge of developing the experiment in collaboration with the DLR institutes of Space Systems, Optical Sensor Systems, Space Operations and Astronaut Training, Composite Structures and Adaptive Systems, System Dynamics and Control, as well as the Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics. Industrial partners are Astronika and the CBK Space Research Centre, Magson GmbH and Sonaca SA, the Institute of Photonic Technology (IPHT) and Astro- und Feinwerktechnik Adlershof GmbH. Scientific partners are the ÖAW Space Research Institute at the Austrian Academy of Sciences and the University of Kaiserslautern. The DLR Microgravity User Support Center (MUSC) in Cologne is responsible for HP³ operations. In addition, the DLR Space Administration, with funding from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, supported a contribution by the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research to the French main instrument SEIS (Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure).

Detailed information on the InSight mission and the HP³ experiment can be found on DLR's dedicated mission site, with extensive background articles and the mission brochure. For mission updates, follow the hashtag #MarsMaulwurf on the DLR Twitter feed. Principal Investigator Tilman Spohn reports on the status of the mission in a blog.

Contact
  • Falk Dambowsky
    Ed­i­tor
    Ger­man Aerospace Cen­ter (DLR)
    Me­dia Re­la­tions
    Telephone: +49 2203 601-3959
    Fax: +49 2203 601-3249
    Linder Höhe
    51147 Cologne
    Contact
  • Christian Krause
    Ger­man Aerospace Cen­ter (DLR)

    Mi­cro­grav­i­ty Us­er Sup­port Cen­ter (MUSC), Space Op­er­a­tions and As­tro­naut Train­ing
    Telephone: +49 2203 601-3048
    Linder Höhe
    51147 Köln
    Contact
  • Torben Wippermann
    Ger­man Aerospace Cen­ter (DLR)
    In­sti­tute of Space Sys­tems
    Telephone: +49 421 24420-1120
    Robert-Hooke-Straße 7
    28359 Bremen
  • Dr Roy Lichtenheldt
    Ger­man Aerospace Cen­ter (DLR)
    Sys­tem Dy­nam­ics and Con­trol
    Telephone: +49 8153 28-3095
    Fax: Institute of System Dynamics and Control
    Münchener Straße 20
    82234 Oberpfaffenhofen-Weßling
  • Dr.-Ing. Björn Timo Kletz
    Ger­man Aerospace Cen­ter (DLR)

    DLR In­sti­tute of Com­pos­ite Struc­tures and Adap­tive Sys­tems
    Telephone: +49 531 295-3228
    Fax: +49 531 295-2876
    Lilienthalplatz 7
    38108 Braunschweig
    Contact
  • Prof.Dr. Tilman Spohn
    HP³ Prin­ci­pal In­ves­ti­ga­tor
    Ger­man Aerospace Cen­ter (DLR)

    DLR In­sti­tute of Plan­e­tary Re­search
    Telephone: +49 30 67055-300
    Fax: +49 30 67055-303
    Linder Höhe
    51147 Köln
    Contact
  • Matthias Grott
    Ger­man Aerospace Cen­ter (DLR)
    In­sti­tute of Plan­e­tary Re­search, Plan­e­tary Geodesy
    Telephone: +49 30 67055-419

    Contact
  • Dr Anko Börner
    Ger­man Aerospace Cen­ter (DLR)
    In­sti­tute of Op­ti­cal Sen­sor Sys­tems
    In­sti­tute of Op­ti­cal Sen­sor Sys­tems
    Telephone: +49 30 67055-509
    Rutherfordstraße 2
    12489 Berlin-Adlershof
  • Martin Knapmeyer
    Ger­man Aerospace Cen­ter (DLR)
    In­sti­tute of Plan­e­tary Re­search
    Telephone: +49 30 67055-394
    Rutherfordstraße 2
    12489 Berlin
    Contact

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