Sunday, January 6, 2019

Final Prep, On Mars: Getting Ready To Detect "Mars-Quakes"...

At the moment, the now free-standing instrument is making minute adjustments to its foot-pads, to fine tune the computerized "level-bubble" -- and insure flawless readings. The instrument pack is clad in a copper sheath dress, to moderate temperature variations, and shield it from Martian wind-born dust and debris. Sometime in the next week, it ought to be ready for science operations -- primarily, listening for quakes.

Exciting times, for exo-planetary geological scientists -- so much new to learn, from these measurements. Here is a bit, from NASA, on the copper-clad beauty:

. . . .The seismometer, called Seismic Explorations for Interior Structure (SEIS), will measure seismic waves caused by marsquakes, meteorite strikes and other phenomena. Watching how these waves travel through Mars' interior will let scientists study how the planet's crust, mantle and core are layered. It will also reveal more about how all rocky bodies are formed, including Earth and its Moon. . . .

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 Institute of Technology (ETH) in Switzerland, Imperial College and Oxford University in the United Kingdom, and JPL. DLR provided the Heat Flow and 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. . . .

Exciting planetary science, indeed. Now, on this quiet Sunday, the first of 2019, we are prone to. . . looking backward, six years, when our own copper clad seismometer fell silent now, for the first time. . . only to reappear, and repeatedly so, in the ensuing months and years, since. We are haunted by waters, of those memories too. . . . So. . . how long until she pings anew? We may never know. Indeed.


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