After last week’s amazing set of Mars photos, NASA’s InSight lander has just beamed back two more epic snapshots from the red planet.
The new photos were taken on December 6 — or Sol 10 of the InSight mission — and offer a captivating view of the pioneering spacecraft and its surroundings, showcasing both the InSight lander in all its splendor and the probe’s “workspace” at Elysium Planitia.
First Selfie On Mars
According to NASA, one of the two newly received images represents InSight’s “first selfie” on Mars. As the Inquisitr recently reported, the spacecraft has already taken several photos of itself on the red planet — with its first selfie being captured a few hours after it landed on Mars on November 26.
Unlike that particular snapshot — which only featured a close-up view of the probe’s 5.9-foot-long robotic arm, as noted by the Inquisitr at the time — this latest image unveils the entire spacecraft, including InSight’s twin solar panels and its full deck, with all of the probe’s instruments resting on top of it.
Taken with the Instrument Deployment Camera mounted on the probe’s robotic arm, the new pic now serves as the first official selfie of the InSight lander. The snapshot is made up of 11 separate images, combined in a mosaic photo of the intrepid spacecraft.
“This is the same imaging process used by NASA’s Curiosity rover mission, in which many overlapping pictures are taken and later stitched together,” space agency officials said in a statement.
— NASA InSight (@NASAInSight) December 11, 2018
First Full View Of InSight’s ‘Workspace’
The second one of the two recent photos is also a mosaic image, this time featuring the stretch of Martian terrain where InSight is due to deploy its main scientific instruments, the SEIS seismometer and the HP3 thermal probe.
Composed of 52 individual snapshots, the photo represents the “first complete look at InSight’s ‘workspace’ — the approximately 14-by-7-foot (4-by-2-meter) crescent of terrain directly in front of the spacecraft,” stated NASA.
This detailed view of the probe’s work area provides precious data that will prove essential to the next phase of the mission.
“Before I dig deep into Mars, I’m focused on becoming more aware of my surroundings. That’ll help me place my instruments in the best spot on the surface,” the InSight team explained via Twitter.
It will take between two to three months for the team to pick the best possible spot for InSight’s instruments. Both the seismometer and the heat-flow probe “work best on level ground, and engineers want to avoid setting them on rocks larger than about a half-inch,” revealed the space agency.
By carefully swinging my arm out in front of me, I’m starting to get a better look at the ground in front of me where I’ll be doing my work. Meanwhile, kind of hypnotized by the play of light and shadow on my arm. More pics: https://t.co/tjr8tfsdEF pic.twitter.com/GAH2Ngi2FX
— NASA InSight (@NASAInSight) December 10, 2018
As the Inquisitr previously reported, InSight landed inside a small dust-filled crater known as a “hollow,” touching down on a slight slope. Combined with the relative lack of rocks at the landing site, this “should make it easier for one of InSight’s instruments, the heat-flow probe, to bore down to its goal of 16 feet (5 meters) below the surface,” explained NASA.