30.11.2018 change 01.12.2018

Poland will get the InSight mission`s data from Mars

InSight lander model presented at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Photo: EPA-EFE / EUGENE GARCIA November 26, 2018 InSight lander model presented at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Photo: EPA-EFE / EUGENE GARCIA November 26, 2018

The data obtained during the Mars InSight mission, which landed on Mars this week, will also be sent to Poland. The co-creator of the driving mechanism - Kret, designed to test the temperature of the interior of Mars, will have the priority with regard to their analyses.

On November 26, at approx. 20:40 CET, the InSight lander landed on the surface of Mars and sent the first image. The photograph shows the horizon line of the Red Planet. The image is not clear, because the camera lens still has a protective filter, shielding the camera from dust raised by twelve braking jet engines during landing, told PAP Łukasz Wiśniewski from the technology and science company Astronika. The company developed and built the soil penetrator mechanism in cooperation with the Space Research Centre of the Polish Academy of Sciences and other companies and research centres.

"InSight landed on the flat surface of Elysium Planitia. This is the best place for geological measurements" - says Wiśniewski.

Over the coming weeks, the InSight probe will search for the best place to penetrate the surface of Mars to a depth of 5 meters. This will be the task of Kret.

The goal of the experiment will be to measure the temperature below the surface of the planet. The "drill" will transport temperature sensors to the interior of the Red Planet.

According to Łukasz Wiśniewski, 5 m is a sufficient depth to study the interior of the planet. "Thermal fluctuations caused by the day-night cycle or seasonal temperature changes are no longer important below 3 m, so at this depth you can measure the actual temperature under the surface of Mars" - the engineer says.

He explains that the data collected by scientific instruments in three experiments will go first to the lead researcher from NASA. Then they will be made available to dozens of cooperating researchers. Among them is Dr. Jerzy Grygorczuk. As an employee of the Space Research Centre and one of the founders of Astronika, the Polish engineer has developed many space mechanisms, including the technology used during the Rosetta mission. He will have priority and exclusivity when it comes to data analysis, before the data are made public by NASA.

The flight to Mars took six months, the lander travelled over 400 million kilometres. The critical moment was landing.

"It was just over 6 minutes, but this was a dramatic moment for the lander. It had to enter the atmosphere at a very precise angle - so that it would not bounce off or burn. A lot of things had to be done flawlessly. That happened, InSight landed and the first emotions have subsided" - summarizes Łukasz Wiśniewski.

The experiment with the participation of Polish technology will start in January. The entire mission will end after one Martian year (2 Earth years).

PAP - Science in Poland, Karolina Duszczyk

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