See the NASA Mars InSight seismometer level itself out

NASA’s InSight mission set this seismometer on the ground in December.

NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s InSight mission has a way of making you feel like you’re standing on Mars. Some vivid new images show the latest steps in deploying the lander’s seismometer as the space agency gets ready to listen for marsquakes.

InSight gently placed the seismometer on the Mars surface in December using a robotic arm, but it was sitting at a slight angle. On Sunday, NASA shared a before-and-after look at the seismometer leveling itself out. You can see the cable that connects the instrument to the lander.

The instrument moves slightly between the two frames of the GIF. The InSight team reports the seismometer is adjusting its internal sensors. It’ll also receive a wind and thermal shield to protect it while it listens for activity from the interior of Mars.

On Friday, NASA showed how the lander’s arm and claw was able to let go of the seismometer before it leveled itself. 

InSight landed on Mars in late November to investigate the planet’s vital signs and learn more about how rocky planets are formed. “The seismometer is the highest-priority instrument on InSight: We need it in order to complete about three-quarters of our science objectives,” said Bruce Banerdt, InSight principal investigator.

NASA made an additional adjustment to its seismometer deployment. The InSight team tweeted on Monday that the mission has “released the slack in my cable so it won’t flutter as much in the wind and pull on the seismometer.”

These little Mars movies are giving space fans a fabulous view of InSight’s delicate and ambitious work. We can soon look forward to learning more about the red planet’s stomach rumblings. 

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