back to article NASA has Mars InSight as latest lander due to arrive today

NASA's Mars InSight lander is due to arrive on the Red Planet on Monday, giving scientists their first in-depth look at the martian interior. The Lander InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) is based on 2008's Phoenix Lander, which itself used components left over from the …

  1. AbelSoul


    ... drilling through the dance floor

    Oh man, look at that lander go

    It's the freakiest show....

  2. fedoraman


    Does the robotic arm have a duster attachment, to dust the solar panels?

    1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

      Re: Dusty

      Got this damn image of Chrichton dusting solar panels in my head now ... :-)

      1. Kane Silver badge

        Re: Dusty

        "Got this damn image of Chrichton dusting solar panels in my head now ... :-)"

        He claims to be a human from a planet called Erp.

      2. Lotaresco

        Re: Dusty

        "Got this damn image of Chrichton "


        That robot from Red Dwarf.

      3. Andy Taylor

        Re: Dusty

        It's Kryten, a series 4,000 mechanoid who killed his first crew by washing their computer. And the backup computer.

        1. ArrZarr Silver badge

          Re: Dusty

          Chrichton - protagonist of Farscape - "Have we sent the standard message of 'Don't attack us, we're pathetic.'?"

          Kryten - android on the crew of Red Dwarf - "Then where do all the calculators go?"

          Confused the bejesus out of me for years.

          1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

            Re: Dusty

            Give it a second arm then dress it up as a Pierson's Puppeteer. Without telling anyone.

            That would be hilarious.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Pen-y-gors

      Re: Dusty

      I wondered about having a little electric fan attachment, but I suppose with the thin air a feather duster on a robot arm would make much more sense.

  3. Andy The Hat Silver badge


    Any info out there on how the HP3 'mole' is designed to work?

    A small, unguided pipe mole on Earth can hit a stone and reappear at the surface only a few inches away. They're aiming for 15m deep dragging a cable through the spoil-filled hole which, in my experience, would start jamming the cable severely and very quickly making the process at best difficult and at worst stretch and break the data/power cable after 50cm ...

    Need geeky mechanical info ...

    1. KarMann

      Re: Information

      5 metres, not 15. Still not easy, but not as hard as that. Maybe you got mixed up with seeing it as 15 feet somewhere?

      1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

        Re: Information

        Yep, damn metric and proper measurements :-) Even so, at two watts maximum power, unless it's pulsed in some way I can't work out how it can generate enough power to overcome the basic drag from its umbilical let alone dig ...

        1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

          Re: Information

          And while there at it, how about UTC?

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

            1. Geoff Johnson

              Re: Information

              Google say 20:00 GMT / UTC

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Information

                Uh-Oh, so instead of mission failure due to mixing up feet/meters, this one is going to fail due to a daylight saving time mix-up?

            2. Michael Habel

              Re: Information

              I think you may be confusing +1h CET, for UTC (London Time)

              1. Killfalcon

                Re: Information

                "I think you may be confusing +1h CET, for UTC (London Time)"

                Yeah, let's go with that, or some other form of muppetry. Misinformation removed to avoid confusing people.

        2. Anonymous Coward

          Re: Information

          It is pulsed. I think that a motor winds up a spring which then knocks a weight downward into the tip of the thing, hammering it into the ground. There's another weight (or something) fired upwards to conserve momentum, and this runs into some kind of spring buffer & so gets rid of its momentum more slowly & doesn't hammer it back up again. this (PDF) is what to look at, I think.

        3. Glen 1

          Re: Information

          Think pile-driver.

    2. Gobhicks

      Re: Information

      Look for "Hammering Mechanism for HP 3 Experiment (InSight)", Jerzy Grygorczuk et al

      1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        Re: Information

        Look for "Hammering Mechanism for HP 3 Experiment (InSight)", Jerzy Grygorczuk et al

        So the robot has one arm with a feather duster for panel cleaning, and another with a large hammer for mole beating?

        But I digress.. looking forward to seeing the pics and data!

    3. Pen-y-gors

      Re: Information

      Damn! They'll be spitting when that happens and they realise they hadn't allowed for such an obvious problem. That's what comes from letting inexperienced grad students design experiments.

    4. lglethal Silver badge

      Re: Information

      Hi Andy,

      The mole works like a jack hammer. Basically inside you have a spring loaded cam that gets loaded up and then releases with a sharp shock that drives the Mole down. The rebound is much slower and is damped by the soil friction along the sides of the Mole (the Mole is long and thin for that reason). This basically means that each stroke down embeds you that little bit further into the soil.

      It also means that how fast it is, is highly dependant on what the soil is like. I was one of the designers of the Mole, and believe me we spent ages testing in lots of different soils. The Mole is also powerful enough to scrape along concrete blocks provided it doesn't hit dead on.

      As for the cable, it's a special type of electrical flat cable, similar to Kapton tape. Very slippy and it has the added job of collapsing the tunnel afterwards - the cable carries a series of heat sensors which we need in contact with the soil, hence why we do that.

      Whilst we did as much testing as possible over the last few years, in vacuum Chambers, in different soils, with rocks and the like buried in the soil, its still impossible to know for certain it will work as planned. Mainly because we have no idea what the Martian soil is actually like. To give an analogy, imagine your are asked to drill a hole in a wall, but your only info about the wall is a picture of the wall with a resolution of 1 pixel per 0.5m^2. What drill bit do you take? A masonry bit because most walls in houses are masonry? What if it happens to be steel or wood? What feeds and speeds do you run the drill at? That's basically what we're dealing with with insight

      - attempting the difficult in the face of the unknown - fingers crossed!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Information

        And this just goes to show that the right people read The Register!

  4. jmch Silver badge

    "On the ground"??

    " The 360kg (once it's on the ground) lander ... "

    If it's mass is 360kg, then that's it's mass whether it's on the ground or not.

    1. AbelSoul

      Re: "On the ground"??

      I took that to mean the mass remaining after the parachutes, heat-shield and the rest of the en-route gubbins have been jettisoned.

      1. imanidiot Silver badge

        Re: "On the ground"??

        What AbelSoul says.

        It's the mass after the heat shield, parachutes, landing rocket propellant and all other gubbins have been discarded. And it reaches that mass pretty much exactly by the time it touches down.

      2. richard.e.morton

        Re: "On the ground"??

        The lander is the same whether it is in space or on the ground, the rest of the equipment is re-entry or spacecraft systems.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Re: "On the ground"??

      I'd stop worrying about changes of mass and start worrying about apostrophes and contractions.

  5. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

    marCO-A and marCO-B

    Who gets to shout polo in that game?

    1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson

      Re: marCO-A and marCO-B

      The guy who comes just after the one shouting "NI" (tall guy, antlers on his helm)

      Sorry, couldn't resist. I'll be going. The one with the Holy Grail in the pocket, please

  6. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Now THAT'S a worthy cause

    > The power, which NASA reckoned would be enough run a household blender, will drive the three main instruments carried by the lander.

    Mars! will it blend?

  7. Steve Graham

    Ed Sullivan Theatre?

    To save you looking it up, EST is UTC-5.

  8. N2


    Elon Musk

    1. IsJustabloke

      Re: Next...

      I know his Muskness can be contentious but I'm not sure blending him is the answer

  9. Simon Harris


    Are those the actual times of events or the times when we should receive telemetry of things happening? The time delay of signals from Mars to Earth is about 8 minutes at the moment.

  10. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    I eagerly await ...

    ... new of the landing.

    1. The Dogs Meevonks Silver badge

      Re: I eagerly await ...

      It's landed safe and sound now.

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: I eagerly await ...

      "Of course, Great Baltar. Everything is going according to plan."

  11. arctic_haze


    It has landed so it is time to congratulate NASA and everybody involved in preparing the mission!

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tin Foil Hats Tuned to UHF

    Insight can now give Mars its 5 meter probing.

    So nice to be on the other end for once.

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