The InSight Mission To Mars Is Set To Confirm Its Landing To NASA Via Radio Telescopes


NASA’s InSight mission aims to send a lander to Mars in order to study the crust, core, and mantle of the red planet.

InSight was launched back in May, and it almost reached its destination. It will soon touch down the Martian surface.

Monitoring the lander’s touchdown 

Now, NASA shared a few details on how it will be tracking the touching down of the lander when it reaches the end of its 91 million mile journey.

The first tools that it will use are radio telescopes, which have the ability to pick up simple radio signals. As the lander will descend into the Martian atmosphere, it will send out radio signals that NASA’s researchers will be able to pick up.

Two locations will be listening out for this signals. One will be at the National Science Foundation’s Green Bank Observatory in Green Bank, West Virginia and one at the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy’s facility at Effelsberg, Germany.

The radio signals will not be able to give data about the findings of the lander, but they can be used to find out basic data such as the speed of the descent. This can be achieved thanks to the Doppler effect.

Mars Cube One

More details about the lander will be gathered by using two small spacecraft called Mars Cube One (MarCO).

These are about the size of a briefcase, and they are using experimental tech that should fly them just behind the lander and send data back here on Earth in real time.

They could even capture images of the Martian surface when the lander touches down.

Besides these MarCOs, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) spacecraft will also be around in order to record data about the InSight’s descent.

Researchers will have to wait a while or the orbiter to disappear behind Mars and then reappear on the other side before it can send back relevant information.


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