Tilman Spohn, HP3 investigation lead, Institute of Planetary Research (DLR), discusses NASA's InSight mission during a prelaunch media briefing, Thursday, May 3, 2018, at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. InSight, short for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, is a Mars lander designed to study the "inner space" of Mars: its crust, mantle, and core. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)
24. February 2019
Newsletter #12 from HP-cubed on InSight - Mole Release Successful
Dear colleagues and friends of HP3 on the InSight mission!
I received confirmation this morning from our System Engineer Jörg Knollenberg that mole release was successful! That is the mole is now free of its fixation that was protecting it until now from any unwanted movements. It is now ready to go! Tomorrow, Monday the 25th of February, there will be a formal review by the operations team and then the command for the mole to start hammering will be included into the list of commands that will be sent to the lander tomorrow afternoon. Hammering operations will then commence on 10am Local Mars Time which will be Tuesday shortly before 7pm pacific or shortly before 2am in Germany. A confirmation of the successful hammering is expected to be uplinked with the late afternoon pass of the TGO which will be at 8:45am PST or 17:45 MEZ.
Please be advised that this will be my last newsletter in the present format. Following a request for a broader distribution, news from HP3 will from now on be preferentially channeled through a DLR blog in both German and English. The URLs are:
Stay tuned and help us to keep fingers crossed
21. February 2019
Newsletter #11 from HP-cubed on InSight - A day before Mole Release Commanding
Excitement is mounting as we are very close to the start of hammering! Yesterday, we received the images that confirm HP3 release (see animated GIF further below. If the movie does not play, try copying the file into your web browser) and the entire team (all hands out!) celebrated the end of the deployment phase of the mission with a cake (see image enclosed). Today, the camera on the arm, the IDC, will inspect the placement of HP3 and the engineering tether, the cable running to the lander. We expect to have these images by tomorrow and will assess them very carefully. Then, the firing of the frangibolts that fix the mole to the housing will be commanded and executed on Mars the following day: mole release! On Monday, assuming that mole release was successful – something we should learn Sunday - we will be commanding hammering. The parameters will be set such that hammering will commence at 10am LMST (local Mars time) on Tuesday and last for up to 4h. We will transmit the hammering data to Earth using a pass of the ESA Trace Gas Orbiter TGO (thank you ESA!) and receive them by 8:45am PST on Wednesday! This will be the moment we all look forward to, the first 70cm depth on Mars for the mole! Although we have tested the mole extensively and diligently, there remains an uncertainty. This has never been done before on Mars or on another terrestrial planets. Sure, the Apollo astronauts have drilled to about 3m on the Moon. But theirs was not a robotic mission.