The InSight Mission to Mars

On May 5, 2018, the InSight mission to Mars became the first planetary launch from Vandenberg Air Force base. After a quiet half-year cruise to Mars, the InSight spacecraft landed safely in Elysium Planitia on 26 November, 2018, carrying a scientific payload focused on the exploration of the deep interior of the planet. This payload is centered on an exquisitely sensitive seismometer, a precision radio-tracking system, and a planetary heat flow probe carried 5 meters below the surface by a mechanical mole. The seismometer and heat flow probe were deployed and left on the surface by a robotic arm, the first time this has been done remotely. The spacecraft itself is an adaptation of the Lockheed-Martin Phoenix lander, with minimal modifications to operate for a complete Mars year near the planet’s equator.

The InSight project team will discuss the science goals and preliminary results, along with some of the unique technical and management challenges that were overcome in order to successfully implement this exciting mission.

The William H. Pickering Lecture is named for the former NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Director, to honor his initiation and leadership of America’s uncrewed scientific space program, from Explorer I in 1958 through the development of the Viking orbiters and the Voyager outer planet and interstellar missions. The lecture is open to all attendees and the general public.

Session Lead(s):

Bruce Banerdt - Panelist - NASA JPL
Larry James - Host - NASA JPL
Charles Scott - Panelist - NASA JPL