NASA-JPL’s Mars InSight robotic lander is scheduled to touch down on Mars on November 26th, 2018 after a six-month voyage. Its mission: Gather data on the Red Planet’s interior structure and help us better understand how our solar system’s four rocky planets evolved.
The lander uses cutting-edge instruments, to delve deep beneath the surface and seek the fingerprints of the processes that formed the terrestrial planets. It does so by measuring the planet’s “vital signs”: its “pulse” (seismology), “temperature” (heat flow), and “reflexes” (precision tracking).
Engineer Marleen Martinez Sundgaard, above, works with a copy of the InSight lander in a simulated Martian sandbox. She puts those cutting-edge instruments through testing that will help the success of the mission.
Plus, meet four more engineers working on both InSight and Mars Cube One, a small CubeSats companion that’s designed to relay information between InSight and Earth:
Ashitey Trebi-Ollennu is a NASA-JPL engineer who worked on the Phoenix Mars lander, a similar mission that led to the discovery of water on Mars, and the robotic arm on the Mars InSight lander. It’s a job he’s dreamed of since he was a kid growing up in Ghana.
NASA-JPL engineer Farah Alibay has didn’t have a role model who was an engineer and a woman of color. Now, she hopes she can play that role for the next generation as Mars Cube One (MarCO) — a pair of experimental CubeSats — attempt to get to Mars and help the InSight lander communicate with Earth.
NASA-JPL engineer Anne Marinan is among the first to send CubeSats into deep space with the Mars Cube One (MarCO) mission. These twin spacecraft may be small but Anne has big hopes for how they could change the future of exploration.
ETH Zurich professor Domenico Giardini spent his career studying earthquakes — once NASA InSight lands, he will get to study marsquakes. An Italian living in Switzerland, Domenico works with NASA’s international partners to provide electronics for the lander’s seismometer.