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NASA’s InSight Captures New Images on Mars

More images from InSight's arm were scheduled to come down this past weekend. However, imaging was momentarily interrupted, resuming the following day

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NASA, Hubble, Keplar, asteroids
Nasa's Opportunity rover might have 'died' on Mars. Flickr

After the successful touchdown of NASA’s InSight on Mars last week, new images from the lander show its robotic arm is ready to do some lifting.

With a reach of nearly 6 feet (2 metres), the arm will be used to pick up science instruments from the lander’s deck, gently setting them on the Martian surface at Elysium Planitia, the lava plain where InSight touched down on November 26.

But first, the arm will use its Instrument Deployment Camera, located on its elbow, to take photos of the terrain in front of the lander, the space agency said in a statement on Thursday.

These images will help mission team members determine where to set InSight’s seismometer and heat flow probe — the only instruments ever to be robotically placed on the surface of another planet, it added.

“Today we can see the first glimpses of our workspace,” said Bruce Banerdt, the mission’s principal investigator at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.

NASA, tissue
NASA. Flcikr

“By early next week, we’ll be imaging it in finer detail and creating a full mosaic.”

Another camera, called the Instrument Context Camera, is located under the lander’s deck. It will also offer views of the workspace, though the view won’t be as pretty.

“We had a protective cover on the Instrument Context Camera, but somehow dust still managed to get onto the lens,” said JPL’s Tom Hoffman, InSight project manager.

“While this is unfortunate, it will not affect the role of the camera, which is to take images of the area in front of the lander where our instruments will eventually be placed.”

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Over the past week and a half, mission engineers have been testing those instruments and spacecraft systems, ensuring they were in working order.

More images from InSight’s arm were scheduled to come down this past weekend. However, imaging was momentarily interrupted, resuming the following day.

Spacecraft engineers had already factored extra time into their estimates for instrument deployment to account for likely delays caused by faults. The mission’s primary mission is scheduled for two Earth years, or one Mars year. (IANS)

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This NASA Scientist is so Excited about Mercury Transit. Here’s Why

The tiny planet traveled directly between Earth and the sun on Monday, creating a perfect alignment

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NASA, Scientist, Mercury
The planet Mercury is seen in silhouette, low center, from Washington, as it transits across the face of the Sun, Nov. 11, 2019. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls). VOA

Stargazers witnessed a rare celestial event on Monday, as Mercury passed directly across the face of the sun.NASA

Mercury, the solar system’s smallest planet and closest to the sun, won’t make the next such transit until 2032.

The tiny planet traveled directly between Earth and the sun on Monday, creating a perfect alignment.

The best views of the event took place in North and South America, while viewers in Europe and Africa were able to see part of Mercury’s passage.

NASA, Scientist, Mercury
Mercury, the solar system’s smallest planet and closest to the sun, won’t make the next such transit until 2032. Pixabay

Stargazers had to use solar-filtered binoculars and telescopes to spot Mercury, which appeared as a small black dot on the face of the sun.

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For those who could not see the event directly, the U.S. Space agency, NASA, live-streamed images of the celestial transit, which took about five and a half hours. (VOA)