Marslander InSight of the American space agency NASA can certainly be labeled as photogenic. The lander will not only photograph places on Mars where soil research will take place; the thing has also recorded itself many times.
The results are impressive. NASA has released a selfie from InSight showing the entire lander, including the fully deployed, circular solar panels and scientific instruments. The selfie was taken with InSight’s robotic arm. It is not a single photo by the way; the entire selfie was put together by stitching together eleven different photos.
InSight not only shot holiday snaps of itself, but also the terrain directly in front of the lander. This four-by-two-metre stretch of sand was photographed in the same way, representing a mosaic of 52 individual photos merged together. This terrain is important to map because it is where the lander’s scientific instruments, such as a seismometer and heat flow probe, will eventually be located.
It will be decided in the coming weeks where exactly the various instruments will be placed. There are no rocks, height differences or holes in the mosaic photo, which was a relief for the scientists, because otherwise the terrain could throw a spanner in the works when placing the instruments.
NASA launched InSight in May and on November 26, the lander successfully landed on Mars. A few hours later everything appeared to function properly and there was also confirmation that the all-important solar panels had been successfully deployed.
InSight was launched primarily to answer questions about the structure and energetics of the interior of the planet Mars. To find out more, the Mars lander will measure the thickness of the crust, the size and the density of the core, among other things. Incidentally, InSight also managed to map the sound of the wind on Mars with its sensors, although that was not a mission goal.