NASA Releases 360 Degree Video Showing a Mars Lander Test

Thursday, 08 March 2018 - 8:23PM
Space
Mars
NASA
Thursday, 08 March 2018 - 8:23PM
NASA Releases 360 Degree Video Showing a Mars Lander Test
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NASA/JPL-Caltech
NASA's "InSight" Mars mission is coming up fast, and the space agency hopes to launch an advanced new lander to the Red Planet this November.

While it shares some similarities with other Martian rovers like Opportunity, Curiosity, and the future Mars 2020 rover, InSight is a lander that can't move much once it touches down on Mars, and it comes with a special attachment: a robotic arm designed for grasping and moving around objects on Mars.

While this seems like a basic tool that any self-respecting robot would come equipped with, it still needs to be tested, and it's still fun to watch. So it's cool that NASA released a panoramic video showing off one of these tests with an InSight replica on a recreation of Martian soil (the "soil" is actually just crushed garnet).

You can see it below:



The video is sped up at certain parts for when InSight is taking its time moving (which is often), but it's a chance to watch a proto-InSight test out all manner of fancy scientific tools, including its seismometer, a shield to protect from wind and sudden changes in temperature, and a heat-flow probe. And of course, the robotic arm.

Tests for InSight have been going remarkably smoothly, and the lander just recently passed an important test when its solar arrays were confirmed to work. Like many probes and rovers, InSight relies at least in part on solar power to keep it moving while any batteries or electrical outlets are over 54 million miles away.



Marleen Sundgaard from NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab (and the narrator of the above video) described the most recent test in an official press statement:

Opening quote
"We have multiple places where we could put each instrument down. There are scenarios where the tethers would cross each other, so we need to make sure they don't snag."
Closing quote


When November comes around, InSight is looking to be in pretty good shape, robotic arm and all.
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