26 November 2018
Flight over the InSight landing site in Elysium Planitia
On 26 November 2018, the NASA InSight probe landed on Elysium Planitia on Mars at 4.5 degrees north and 135.9 degrees east. This video shows an overflight over the landing site and its surroundings. The video was based on a digital terrain model generated with stereo image data acquired by DLR's High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) of the DLR.
DLR (CC-BY 3.0).
On 26 November 2018, NASA's InSight probe is expected to land on Mars' Elysium Planitia plain at a 4.5 degrees north and135.9 degrees east. This video shows a flight over the landing site and surrounding area. It was produced based on a digital terrain model calculated using stereo image data from DLR's High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC).
At the beginning, the supra-regional topography of the landing site is shown from various perspectives within a radius of a few hundred kilometres. The first scene shows the approach to the approximately 13-kilometre high Elysium Mons volcano, from north to south. This is followed by a loop and flight over Elysium Planitia, from south east to north west with a view of the landing ellipse. The third 'fight clip' is a perspective from north east to south west of the area to the north of Gale crater, which NASA's Curiosity rover has been exploring since 2012. At the end of the flight, the area south of the landing ellipse can be seen. Here, six distinctive craters are visible: in the landing ellipse itself, the surface is a monotone brown – as is the topography that scientists have selected for the success of the mission. At the time this data mosaic was created, most of the potential landing sites were located in the centre of the view.
HP3: first fully automated experiment performed on another celestial body
InSight is a stationary geophysical observatory and NASA Discovery Programme mission. On board the landing probe are a French seismometer for recording tremors and earthquakes resulting from meteorite and asteroid impacts, as well as the HP3 (Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package) thermal probe developed and built by the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR).
HP3 will be placed on the ground by the landing platform in January 2019 and will hammer five metres into the surface of Mars carrying a measuring cable fitted with temperature sensors. It will then measure the residual heat of the planet's core penetrating the surface from the planet's interior at varying depths, in order to determine the geothermal gradient, thereby making it possible to determine the evolution and current condition of the Martian core. Such a fully automated experiment has never been performed on another celestial body.
A safe landing site on the Elysium Planitia plain
Due to the mission's geophysical focus, the landing site was chosen based on criteria other than those used for the previous four mobile research platforms that have landed on Mars, for example, in which the geological environment had to be as scientifically attractive as possible. Safety is an important aspect during landing: a vast area with few rocks, ditches and fault structures was sought. The landing site cannot be accurately predicted, so the area selected had to be large enough to meet the criteria of a 'landing ellipse' approximately 140 kilometres long (towards the approach) and 30 kilometres wide. An area south of the large Elysium volcano was chosen (in whose periphery the Viking 2 probe landed in 1976), namely the Elysium Planitia region located between the volcanic province and the transition to the Martian highlands around 300 kilometres further south – the so-called Martian dichotomy.
The area has been almost entirely photographed by the HiRISE camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance orbiter with a resolution of around 30 centimetres per pixel. Scientists therefore expect ideal conditions for performing their experiments at the landing site. For the HP3 experiment, this means that there are virtually no rocks on the surface and the soil is sandy and not too dense, so that the hammer can penetrate up to five metres into the surface as planned. Based on model calculations, the team of HP3 scientists assume that the thermal flow from the Martian interior to the surface on Elysium Planitia has an average value that is representative of the planet.
The video was produced based on a digital terrain model calculated using stereo image data at a resolution of 12.5 metres per pixel from DLR's High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) on board the ESA Mars Express orbiter. Colour image mosaics featuring images of both Viking Orbiter missions (1976-1981) and a terrain model based on laser altitude measurements from NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor mission (1996-2006) were also used.
Last modified:26/11/2018 16:56:05