Mission Control Live: NASA InSight Mars Landing

[upbeat music]
– After traveling through
space for more than six months
and crossing 300 million miles
InSight has reached
its destination,
the red planet Mars,
welcome to Mission Control
at NASA’s Jet Propulsion
Laboratory, I’m Gay Yee Hill.
Less than an hour
from now InSight
will begin the most harrowing
six and a half minutes
of the entire mission,
entry, descent and landing,
the team is as
prepared as it can be,
but who knows what Mars
has in store today.
The cruise mission support area
is filled with engineers
monitoring the situation,
and for the first time
during a Mars landing
you can be in the room too,
we have a 360 degree camera
in this control room,
allowing you to experience
the landing right
along with the team.
There you see it,
and to look up the link,
just go to the
InSight watch page
you see there on the screen.
And this mission has
actually two control rooms,
the second is that
Lockheed Martin Space
outside of Denver Colorado,
engineers there
are on console two.
Plus people all over
the world are tuning in
at museums and libraries
and other locations,
including this one at the
Pasadena Convention Center,
and that’s where friends
and family are watching now,
there will also be an
opportunity to watch
in New York City,
there they are cheering,
there will also be
an opportunity to
watch in New York City
when landing coverage gets
displayed on the NASDAQ Tower,
you see there in Times Square.
And of course if
you are watching
please snap a picture
and share it with us,
using the hashtag Mars landing,
we’d love to see it.
Now I’d like to introduce you
to NASA administrator
Jim Bridenstine,
thank you for coming.
– Oh it’s my honor,
thank you for having me.
– We are so excited
to have you here.
– Great to be here.
– So this is your
first Mars landing?
– It is in this job,
I have witnessed these I should
say from the sidelines
for many years,
this is gonna be the eighth
time we have a successful
landing on Mars,
everybody knock on wood.
– That’s right.
– But this is the first time
for me to participate
as the administrator,
so it’s very exciting.
– Excited, nervous?
– Not nervous, excited.
– Not nervous?
– Look at the
amazing people here,
no way I could be nervous.
– Alright, so we hope to have
you back on set after landing
and maybe take a couple
of social media questions.
– Absolutely.
– If you would like to ask
the administrator a question,
use the hashtag askNASA.
And before you go you did
ask about the lucky peanuts,
so this is your bottle
to take in there.
– I will be happily
munching on these.
– Alright thanks for joining us.
– Thank you.
– Now let’s give
you some background,
InSight is short for
Interior Exploration
using Seismic Investigations
Geodesy and Heat Transport,
it’s different from
other Mars missions
which all studied the surface,
InSight is the first mission
to study the interior
of the red planet.
The basic idea of InSight
is to map out the deep
structure of March,
we know a lot about
the surface of Mars,
we know a lot about
its atmosphere,
even about its ionosphere,
but we don’t know very much
about what goes on a
mile below the surface,
much less 2000 miles below the
surface down to the center,
and this will be
the first mission
that is going to
Mars specifically
to investigate the
deep inside of Mars.
– We know that the
Earth is habitable,
we know that Mars is not,
there might be something
that we find out
in terms of the
structure of Mars
versus the structure of Earth,
that maybe can help us
understand why that is.
– InSight carries a
seismometer which measures
the seismic waves
that have travel
through Mars from Marsquakes,
and maps out the deep
interior structure of Mars,
we’re gonna also
have a heat flow
and physical properties probe,
which will penetrate into the
Mars surface about five meters
or 16 feet to take the
temperature on Mars.
And it has a radio
science experiment
which uses the radio
on the spacecraft
to measure small variations
in the wobble of Mars’ poles
to understand more
about the structure
and composition of the core.
– InSight will be
the first mission
to pick instruments off the deck
of the Lander and place
them on the surface of Mars.
I like to say that
we are playing
the claw game on Mars
with no joystick.
The seismometer needs to
be installed in one place
and not move in order to
get the best seismic data.
– [Bruce] We also have a
wind and thermal shield
that we place on top
of that seismometer
to protect it further
from the environment.
– [Jaime] For the
heat flow probe, HPQ,
it also needs to
sit in one place,
take a while to hammer
itself down into the ground
and acquire the
demo measurements
over a long period of time.
– InSight is a mission to Mars,
but it’s much, much more
than a Mars mission,
in some sense it’s
like a time machine,
it’s measuring the
structure of Mars
that was put in place four
and a half billion years ago,
so we can go back and
understand the processes
that formed Mars just shortly
after it was accreted
from the solar nebula.
By studying Mars we’ll
be able to learn more
about Earth, Venus,
Mercury, even the moon,
even exoplanets
around other stars.
– Landing on Mars
is always difficult,
more than half the
missions have failed,
our experts in this field
our systems engineers for
entry, descent and landing,
they speak EDL.
Let me introduce you to
two in our control room,
Christine Szalai,
who will be making
the mission callouts
during landing,
and Julie Wertz Chen,
She is our color commentator
who will help explain
mission operations.
Christine let’s start with you,
I understand that
there was a funnel
software update and adjustment,
what does that mean?
– That’s right,
yesterday we sent the last
EDL software parameter
update to the
spacecraft’s computer,
this update told the
spacecraft exactly
when it will hit the
top of the atmosphere,
and also fine tune things like
when to deploy the parachute,
this ADL software
is very important,
because InSight
uses this software
to perform entry, descent and
landing completely on its own,
Mars is so far away from Earth
that when a command
is sent from Earth
it takes about eight minutes
for it to reach the spacecraft,
entry, descent and
landing from start
to finish is less than
eight minutes long,
so InSight has to do
this all by itself.
– Alright, it’s fate is sealed.
Now I understand
that the team is
about to do a readiness poll,
Julie can you fill
us in on that?
– Sure, so that’s
gonna be a poll,
between our EDL
communications engineer
and several of the
different orbiters
and antennas we
have here on Earth,
so we have MarCO
listening in on us,
and MRO, which is Mars
Reconnaissance Orbiter,
will be listening to our
data and recording it for us,
and then the radio
science engineers
will be eavesdropping
in on our signal
from all the way
back here on Earth,
and Sandy, our EDL
communications engineer
we’ll be checking in with them,
making sure that they
are all ready to go,
ready to support us
in just a little under
an hour to land on Mars.
– Alright so we’re
standing by for that,
for that readiness poll.
And I understand
that the peanuts
are going to be passed
in there pretty soon?
– I believe that’s
the idea yeah,
we’ll be passing around the
peanuts very soon after that,
for those of you who don’t know,
the JPL peanuts are a tradition,
it gives us a
little bit of extra
luck on our critical events,
so if anybody out there
wants to join in on peanuts
and give us some extra
good luck peanuts vibe,
we’d love to have it.
– Well there’s a
story behind that,
that way back when in
the early days of JPL
there were several missions,
and there were six
Ranger missions to
the moon that failed,
but then with Ranger seven–
– Ranger seven somebody–
– [Gay] Somebody
passed around peanuts.
– Yeah, and it worked,
and you don’t mess
with what works,
it’s not a superstition,
it’s a tradition,
and we just give yourselves
that little bit of extra luck.
– So if you have
peanuts at home,
please have some.
– [Julie] That’s right.
– Alright, thanks Julie.
NASA has had seven
successful Mars landings,
but the EDL team never
ever becomes overconfident,
JPL chief engineer Rob Manning
says things have
to work just right
during six and a half
critical minutes.
[dramatic music]
– Although we’ve done it before,
landing on Mars is hard,
and this mission
is no different.
The process to get from the top
of the atmosphere of
Mars to this surface,
we call entry,
descent and landing,
or EDL,
it takes thousands
of steps to go
from the top of the
atmosphere to the surface,
and each one of them has
to work perfectly to be
a successful mission.
The process starts well above
the top of the
atmosphere of Mars,
the cruise stage faces the sun,
it also has its radio
antenna which faces Earth,
but now we don’t need
the cruise stage,
its job is done.
The next step just seven minutes
before arriving to the
top of the Mars atmosphere
is to separate the cruise stage,
before you hit the top
of the atmosphere though,
the space capsule
has to orient itself
so that the heat shield is
precisely facing the atmosphere.
Now the fun begins,
the vehicle is moving at
nearly 13,000 miles an hour,
but it’s hitting the
top of the atmosphere
at a very shallow angle,
12 degrees,
any steeper,
the vehicle will hit the
thicker part of the atmosphere
and will melt and burn out,
any shallower,
the vehicle will bounce
off the atmosphere of Mars,
at the very top the atmosphere
it’s about 70 miles above
the surface of Mars,
and the air is starting to
get thicker and thicker,
as it does that,
the temperature
in the heat shield
gets well over 1000
degrees centigrade,
enough to melt steel,
over the next two minutes,
the vehicle decelerates
at a backbreaking 12 Earth Gs,
from 13,000 miles an hour
to about 1000 miles an hour,
at about 10 miles above
the surface of Mars,
a supersonic
parachute is launched
out of the back of the vehicle,
15 seconds after the
parachute inflates,
it’s time to get rid
of the heat shield,
six pyrotechnic devices
fire simultaneously
allowing the heat shield
to fall and tumble away
from the vehicle exposing the
lander to the surface of Mars.
10 seconds after the
heat shield is dropped,
three pyrotechnically
deployed legs
are released and
locked for landing.
About a minute later, the
landing RADAR is turned on,
sending pulses toward
the surface of Mars,
as the vehicle starts
to try to measure
how high it is
above the surface,
and how fast it’s going.
At about a mile above
the surface of Mars,
the lander falls away
from the back shell
and lights its engines.
And very quickly the vehicle
must rotate out of the way,
so that the parachute
and the back shield doesn’t
come down to hit it,
the last thing
that has to happen,
is that in the moment of contact
the engines have to
shut down immediately,
if they don’t the
vehicle will tip over.
So with all the steps
of entry, descent
and landing happen perfectly
and we are safely on
the surface of Mars,
we’ll be ready to do some
exciting new science.
– Person later on
in the program,
meantime let me
introduce you to someone
who has been working on
InSight for seven years,
he’s the project
manager Tom Hoffman,
seven years and
today is the day.
– That’s right, seven years,
but we’re just a little
over 40 minutes now
and we’re gonna be on the
surface, it’s gonna be awesome.
– Really exciting stuff.
So let’s talk about InSight,
it’s using tried
and true technology,
based on the Phoenix,
this time there’s a bigger
challenge with communication,
normally we have an orbiter
that can give us bent
pipe communications,
but it’s different this time.
– That’s right, most
of the time when
we’ve landed recently,
we’ve had Mars Odyssey
which can do bent
pipe communications,
and so we get real-time
data as we go through EDL,
and we’ve come to expect that
and actually we really,
really want that.
In this case our
primary technology,
primary orbiter is Mars
Reconnaissance Orbiter,
and so what that’s gonna
be doing is actually
will be listening
to us on the UHF,
if you go to the video
you can see this,
MRO will be listening to us
and be getting all
the primary data,
and it will send it back to us,
unfortunately only three
hours after we land.
– So it doesn’t give
us the bent pipe
live information as it happens?
– It doesn’t,
we have a couple of other
sources that we’re looking at,
we have at Green Bay
Observatory in West Virginia,
Max Planck Observatory
in Effelsberg, Germany,
which will be giving us UHF,
but those only give us a couple
of different points in time,
and so we did something
kind of cool this time,
we brought along a couple
of Cubesats called MarCO,
so hopefully they’re
both working great today.
– [Gay] Oh, fantastic.
– So we’re hoping
they’re gonna continue
to work all the way through EDL,
and they will be giving
us real-time feed,
so we can show how that
works on the next video here.
So you can see here’s InSight
with its cruise stage
getting close to Mars,
but we have two
stalkers following us,
they’ve been following
us since we launched,
they launched on the same
launch vehicle as us,
so you can see the green there
is we’re sending
UHF signals to them,
and then they turn
that around and send
a much stronger
signal back to Earth,
we can’t communicate
on UHF direct
to Earth with this signal,
that tells us what’s going
on in the spacecraft,
but MarCO can,
if it works for us all the
way down to the surface
we’re gonna have some great
information coming from MarCO.
– So MarCO is basically
trying to fill
that gap that we would have had
if we had live communication
coming down to us.
– Absolutely.
– So if it does not work does
it affect InSight’s
mission at all?
– No not at all,
we’ll just be doing a
little more nailbiting,
but right now it looks
like it’s gonna be working,
but it doesn’t impact
InSight at all,
and we have one final
way that we’re gonna
know that we’ve got
successfully to the ground,
which is the spacecraft
will phone home,
once it gets down to the ground,
it’s gone seven
months through cruise,
seven and a half
minutes of terror,
and it’s gonna call back and say
I’m on the surface I’m
feeling pretty good,
everything looks good so far.
– And also to prep the audience,
even after landing we’re not out
of the woods just yet, correct?
– Not just yet,
we have one more step
that we have to do,
we have to let the dust
settle quite literally,
we’re gonna kick up a
lot of dust when we land,
we need to let that dust settle,
before we unfurl
our solar arrays,
we’re 100% solar powered,
so it’s very important
that we get those out,
both MRO and MarCO
will be out of view,
by the time that we have
those completely unfurled,
and so we’re gonna have to
wait five and a half hours
until Odyssey comes by and tells
us that yes indeed our
solar arrays are out.
So we’ll definitely
have a celebration
when we get a
successful landing,
but we’re gonna have to
temper that just a little bit
and wait about five
and a half hours
to know absolutely for
sure we’re in good shape.
– So we have immediate
knowledge if we have MarCOs,
so just to run it
through once again,
what’s gonna happen with EDL,
we have the video of the show,
how exactly is this
all gonna play out
in six and a half minutes,
we can roll the video.
– Okay,
you can see here we are
attached to the cruise stage,
we drop that off,
say thank you for
the ride to Mars,
it burns up in the atmosphere,
you can see it gets very
hot on our heat shield,
we’re getting up in some places
maybe 3000 degrees Fahrenheit
as we go through this,
we’re on the heat shield
for about four minutes,
that dissipates about
90 percent of the energy
that we need to dissipate
before we get to the surface,
then we pop our parachute,
we’re going about 850 miles
an hour when we
pop the parachute,
we’re on that for
about two minutes,
then we’ll drop off
the heat shield,
we’ll start acquiring the
ground with our RADAR,
very much like an F-16
fighter jet RADAR,
the legs will pop out,
we’ll start descending,
we drop for just a second
which is very terrifying for
me our descent thrusters,
we have 12 of them,
they are 16 pound thrusters,
start thrusting and
dropping us to the ground,
and slowly slowly we drop down,
going only five miles an hour,
so when that six and a
half minutes of terror,
which is a little less
then seven minutes
so that’s great for me,
we go from 12,300 miles
an hour 75 miles above
the surface of Mars,
we get to the surface
we’re at five and a
half miles an hour.
– That’s amazing,
that’s absolutely amazing,
well before you go Tom,
there was a couple of pictures
we wanted to show you,
we have watch parties taking
place all over the country,
and let’s see if we can put one
of these watch
parties up for you
to see this is from Ohio,
this is a person who
has a watch party,
it looks like in a classroom.
– [Tom] That is so awesome.
– [Gay] Isn’t that great that
folks are watching with us?
– Yeah I know,
people all across the
globe are watching this,
and we really want to put a
good show on for them today.
– Alright I’ll let
you back in the room,
– I gotta get back in there.
– I know you’re excited.
Alright take care,
thanks for joining us.
– Thank you.
[dramatic music]
– Okay let’s introduce you to
the people who built InSight,
Lockheed Martin Space
outside of Denver,
these are the folks who
built Viking in 1976,
and Mars Phoenix in 2008,
the operations team is there,
and Lockheed InSight EDL
manager Tim Linn is standing by,
Tim, what’s going on in there?
– The team is getting
really excited,
we are just about ready,
we’re about half
an hour from entry,
and the start of entry,
descent and landing,
so the team is really
excited and focused,
but also very excited
about the upcoming
successful entry descent
and landing we’re
getting close to.
– We talked about
the fact that InSight
is based on tried
and true technology,
it’s based on Phoenix,
but you’ve had to make a
couple of changes for InSight,
what were they?
– Yeah, so obviously
as you said,
we leveraged Phoenix a lot,
there was a lot of great things
that we were able to take
from the Phoenix mission,
but InSight is a unique mission,
it’s landing towards
the equator of Mars,
and a number of
things are different,
where we’re landing,
we are about one and a half
kilometers higher in altitude,
in addition, so what
that required us to do
it’s come in a little
bit more shallow,
in addition we are a little
bit heavier than Phoenix was,
so we’ve had to increase
some of the strength
of some of the lander itself,
so the parachute, we had
to increase the strength,
we have to deploy the
parachute a little bit higher
because of some of
the differences in
our entry timeline,
and because of
when we’re landing,
we’re landing towards
the end of dust season,
so we’ve also actually increased
the thickness of
the heat shield,
so we are about a quarter inch
thicker on our heat shield
to accommodate that potential
sandblasting we could see
when we actually do our
entry, descent and landing.
So a number of
things we’ve changed,
but we obviously leveraged
a lot from the very successful
Phoenix mission as well.
– That’s fantastic so you
are able to customize it,
because there were
some concerns earlier
on that there was a
dust storm taking place,
it was dust storm season.
– That’s right,
in fact we’ve had a
lot of great support
from our orbiting assets,
MRO and Odyssey,
a couple of spacecraft
that we’ve partnered
with JPL and were built
here at Lockheed Martin,
they have actually provided
a lot of great insight
into the weather on Mars,
the dust storms that are
potentially happening on Mars,
and as of today,
and actually the last couple
of weeks it’s been great
on the surface of Mars,
we are anticipating
a very nominal,
very seasonal weather in
terms of both density,
atmosphere as well
as temperature,
and dust storms appear
to be very benign,
so we’re very
optimistic it’s gonna
be a great day for landing
on the surface of Mars.
– Alright that’s great news,
thanks Tim,
and I know your team
is getting excited
over there just
as much as we are.
Take care.
– Absolutely, thanks a lot.
– The time now is 11:21,
it’s about 20 minutes,
the tension is building
in both control rooms,
it’s about 20 minutes before
cruise stage separation,
it’s not too far off,
cruise stage
separation is expected
at about 40 minutes
past the hour,
so we are indeed getting close.
So where is InSight
going to Mars?
It’s a place called
Elysium Planitia,
Planitia is Latin for flat,
Elysium is ancient Greek
for afterlife paradise,
it’s located near the equator,
north of Gale Crater,
not too far from
Curiosity Rover,
the team calls it the
biggest parking lot on Mars,
it’s a place that’s safe,
got plenty of sunshine that
will power solar instruments
to study the interior of Mars.
[light music]
– [Narrator] What’s inside Mars?
We know a lot about
what’s inside the Earth,
but at Mars we’ve only
just scratched the surface,
to learn how Mars formed we
have to study its deep interior,
NASA’s InSight Lander was
designed to do just that,
by taking the
planet’s vital signs,
listening to its pulse
for seismic activity,
including any Marsquakes,
taking its temperature
to see how much heat is
flowing out from deep inside,
and checking its
reflexes to see how much
the planet wobbles as
it whips around the sun.
These all provide clues to
what the planet is
really like inside.
So what’s inside Mars?
InSight can help us
find out by giving Mars
its first thorough checkup since
it formed four and a
half billion years ago,
the more we learn,
the better we understand
all the rocky planets,
and the history of
our solar system.
– Joining us now
is Bruce Banerdt,
the principal investigator
of Mars InSight,
InSight is a mission to Mars,
but we keep hearing
again and again
it’s more than a
mission to Mars.
– That’s right Gay,
I mean we are going to Mars
to study the Martian interior
and to map out the
divisions inside Mars,
but we want to use
that information
to understand more
about the solar system
as a whole and how
rocky planets form.
– And rocky planets,
we have an image to show folks,
so we’re talking about
Earth, the Moon, Mars.
– Mercury, Venus, the planets
of the inner solar system
that are made mostly of rocks,
and they all share the
same basic structure
with a dense iron core,
a rocky mantle,
and then a crust of
lighter silicate rocks,
but the very details of the
thicknesses of those layers,
the sizes and the compositions,
give us a lot of clues as
to how those planets formed,
and why they went down
very different paths
into the different
planets we see today.
– So explain to me,
we are going to have a lander,
you’re gonna be on the surface,
how will you be able
to study the interior?
– We use what are called
geophysical instruments,
they use the
principles of physics
to actually see
through the rocks,
we are using seismic waves,
the same way you
might use a flashbulb
to take pictures of something,
we are using Marsquakes,
which send out vibrational
waves through the planet,
and as they go through
the planet they
reflect off boundaries,
they get bent,
they change their velocity,
and it changes the wiggles
that you see on a seismograph,
when we go through the planet
you can see that here it
hits the various boundaries,
and those waves are reflected,
sometimes they’re bent,
it becomes a pretty
complicated pattern,
but scientifically
we have learned over
the last hundred years
how to interpret the code
of the signals that comes
back up to the surface,
in the seismometers
that pick up that signal
and then turn it into data
that we can use on Earth,
to understand what the 3D
structure is of the planet.
– So normally you use
three seismometers,
in this case you’re
bringing size,
that’s one,
how are you going to be able
to get that
information using one?
– Well we had to
get kind of clever,
because all the Earth usually
you have plenty of seismometers,
you can use multiple
to triangulate in on
where the Earthquake is,
on Mars we’re gonna do something
a little bit different,
we’re gonna use not only
the P and the S waves
that you may have heard about,
but we are using
the surface waves,
and here you can see
the surface waves
moving out from a Marsquake,
and as it passes over
the InSight Lander
you can see the seismograph
up there in the upper
left-hand corner
where you have the wiggles,
now those waves keep on
going around the planet,
and because Mars
is not so large,
they still have a fair
amount of amplitude,
they haven’t gotten
completely damped out,
by the time it’s gone all
the way around the planet,
passes over the
spacecraft again,
and finally even the way
they went the other way
around the planet comes across
and hits us yet a third time,
and so we have extra information
over the P and the S wave,
we have these
surface wave arrivals
that we can use to pinpoint
the distance from the Marsquake
to our lander,
and then we use something
called polarization analysis,
to figure out which direction
the waves are coming from,
and by doing that,
we can do the same thing
that we can do with three
stations on the Earth,
just using the P
and the S waves.
– And very quickly, there
is still another instrument
built by DLR that’s also
being carried up by InSight,
can you talk a little
bit about that?
– Yeah that’s our
heat flow probe,
and it’s a pretty
cool instrument
that uses a mechanical
mole we call it,
to burrow its way
down into the surface,
it has a motor that
winds up a hammer
and knocks itself down just
a few millimeters at a time,
but we do that 20 or
30,000 hammer strokes
and it gets it down,
we hope to get down to be about
16 feet below the surface,
and once we get down there,
we’re actually measuring the
heat coming out of the planet,
by measuring the
temperature along
the cable as it comes
up to the surface,
and looking at how
that temperature
increases as we go down,
and extrapolate that
deep into the planet
to understand how much energy
there is inside the planet
to drive the geology and to
drive volcanism, Marsquakes,
all kinds of activity.
– It’s amazing how
much you’ll be able
to learn from the surface
about the interior.
– I think it is amazing,
it’s been something that I’ve
been working on for my
whole professional career,
and I find it fascinating.
– Alright we’ll talk about that,
thanks Bruce.
Bruce first thought of the
mission like this as he mentions
40 years ago when he
was a graduate student,
the rest of the team hasn’t
waited quite that long,
but this is a big
moment for them too,
recently we sat down
with a few of the members
and asked them what
is it going to be like
as we get close to landing.
[dramatic music]
– It’s a very
difficult thing to do,
and everything has
to go perfectly,
as humans we’ve sent
17 different missions
to the surface of Mars and
10 of them have crashed.
Before we can land on Mars
we have to get to Mars.
How do we get to Mars?
– The main responsibility
of the navigation team
is to ensure that the
spacecraft is delivered
to the right point on
the Martian atmosphere.
The target location is
about 12 kilometers in size,
our accuracy is
comparable to shooting
a basketball from Staple
Center in downtown LA,
and hitting nothing but net
in a basketball hoop
in New York City,
that is moving at a speed
of about two feet per second
and is spinning about its axis.
– The landing site we have an
ellipse that is pretty big,
it’s about 60 miles long,
We could land anywhere
in that ellipse,
there’s a chance that we
could land right on a rock,
and we don’t have any
control over that,
so that’s what makes me nervous.
– We have tested the RADAR
by flying it on a helicopter,
we’ve tested pieces
of the heat shield
by putting them in
an arc jet facility,
we have tested the parachute
by testing it in a wind tunnel,
and putting that all together
in a very tightly
controlled sequence
where every single
thing has to go right,
we have never tested that,
and the first time
it’s gonna happen
is once you deliver us to Mars.
– It is about 11:29 AM Pacific,
and you’re watching live
coverage of the InSight landing
from NASA’s Jet
Propulsion Laboratory
in Pasadena, California.
We are about a half
hour away from landing,
and people all over
the world are watching,
take a look at a map
that we have for you,
we can show you right now,
this is a watch in person map
where people have watch
parties all over the world,
all over the United States,
in Paris, in Berlin,
even off the coast
of Madagascar,
and folks in the Big Apple
will also be watching today,
the NASDAQ Tower will switch
over to landing coverage
for about an hour,
that means people in Times
Square can watch too,
and later today, NASA will have
the honor of ringing
the closing bell,
and that will be a little
over an hour from now.
And if you are watching,
take a picture
and send it to us,
using hashtag Marslanding,
here is one I believe it is
from the California Science
Center in Los Angeles,
and I am told Eric Garcetti
will be visiting later today.
Things are getting more
active for the team now,
let’s check back in
with Julie Wertz Chen
in the control room,
what’s going on Julie?
– Yeah so we have heard
from MRO a couple of times,
that’s Mars
Reconnaissance Orbiter,
they are doing their slew,
they are ready to support us,
they are doing great,
and we heard from both MarCO’s,
MarCO A and B that
they’re out there,
they’ve got telemetry lock
with them from the
ground stations here,
so they are doing great,
and everybody is ready to
go, so we’re pretty excited.
– Fantastic,
we will check back in
with Julie in a moment,
meantime this is a good time
to tell you a little bit more
about that technology experiment
we’ve been talking about,
as we mentioned earlier,
InSight does not have an orbiter
in position to send
EDL data back live,
so the Cubesats hope
to fill that gap,
here’s how they’ll work.
– [Narrator] Communicating
between Mars and Earth requires
a complicated choreography,
with everything in the right
place at the right time.
Sometimes hours can
pass before information
is related from one
planet to another,
that’s why when NASA’s Mars
InSight Lander launches
this year the rocket will carry
two tiny satellites for a
technology test of their own.
Meet Mars Cube One,
MarCO, NASA’s first Cubesat
mission to deep space,
these briefcase-sized satellites
will travel separately
from the InSight Lander
while they test out new
miniaturized technologies,
and if they make it to Mars
they could relate
information back
to Earth about InSight’s
descent and touchdown,
and do it in mere minutes.
Although this fast
communication isn’t crucial
to the success of
the InSight Lander,
this Cubesat test could change
the way future
spacecraft phone home.
– Alright let’s
check back with Julie
to see if the MarCOs
are indeed ready
to support and
listen for InSight,
Julie what do you know?
– So they are ready to go,
I haven’t heard about
their slew coming up yet,
but they are ready to go,
we have heard from them,
they are both healthy,
and they’re both doing great,
which is just wonderful news.
So I think they should
be doing a slew,
actually I think they should
be doing a slew
in just a minute.
– [Gay] We’ll stand
by and listen then.
[men mumbling off-microphone]
– [Woman] All
stations and systems,
we can confirm we are
entry -20 minutes,
EDL nav two has been initiated,
the star tracker has
been powered off.
– The nav two software
has been initiated,
so when we’re in cruise
we use a star tracker,
in a similar manner to how
sailors navigated years ago,
we look at the stars
and get our relative
position from them,
we use a star tracker for that,
and now that we are
close enough to Mars,
we don’t need that anymore,
so we’re gonna transition
to what’s called
Nav two software,
and that let’s us
basically just use velocity
and acceleration
from this point on,
so we don’t need the
star tracker any more.
– [Man] MarCO clarify, slew to
inertia or start a bent pipe.
– [Man] Slew to appropriate
altitude for bent pipe,
bent pipe mode will
be entered shortly.
– [Man] Okay thank
you very much.
– And that was obviously
confirmation of
the slew for MarCO,
so that’s great news.
– [Gay] Fantastic.
– So as I was saying before,
the Nav two software will
propagate from here on out,
and we’ll use velocity
and acceleration,
so we’ve powered off
our star tracker,
and we are on our
Nav two software
and everything is looking great.
– Okay thanks Julie.
Alright the cruise
stage separation
is just about four minutes away,
and Rob Manning joins us now,
Rob is the chief
engineer here at JPL,
and an absolute veteran
of Mars landings.
We are going to play a little
video for you right now,
you haven’t seen it yet,
but we’ll roll it.
Let’s go ahead.
This is–
– [Man] Lander
acceleration live,
14 reports carrier lock at–
– [Gay] There you are,
you were the phase lead.
You were sitting
up from [laughs].
[crowd cheers]
– [Rob] Yeah,
that’s what I look like
when it’s successful.
– [Gay] Yes.
– I’d hate to see
what I would have
looked like if I
wasn’t successful.
– But talk about that,
what is EDL like,
why is it so hard?
– Well its many years of
work by many many people
who struggle to put all
the pieces together,
and particularly because
we can’t really test
entry, descent and
landing on this planet,
it’s much more complicated,
Mars has a lower atmosphere,
thinner atmosphere,
less gravity,
you just can’t put the pieces,
so imagine you had a
big Broadway production,
but you couldn’t really
do the show until all
the audience shows up,
so that’s what it feels like,
so you never really know if
you’ve really done it right.
– Well we’ve done
it seven times,
can we say piece of cake,
we know what we’re doing?
– No I don’t think so,
we get better at it,
and there’s no doubt
we have learned,
we’ve learned from both
successes and our own failures,
including failures of other
missions outside
of this country,
so those pieces come
together in our minds eye,
and we try to put what
we learned together,
and just do the best we can,
and if we don’t succeed,
we will learn,
because we are collecting
data on the way down,
if something bad happens today,
we’ll be able to
take what we learned,
even though we may
fall on the ground
after being kicked off the horse
we’ll get back up,
brush ourselves off,
figure out what we did wrong,
and get back on the horse.
– Well there’s a
lot of uncertainty,
just very quickly give
some possible scenarios
of what could happen
during EDL today,
especially during
– Well the great news about
having communications,
almost anything could go wrong,
there’s a very good chance
we can figure it out,
but things like the
parachute has to go right,
you don’t open parachutes
on Earth going Mach
one and a half,
one and a half times
the speed of sound,
you just don’t do that,
you don’t need to
on this planet,
but we have to
because if we waited
any longer we’d
be on the ground.
A very complicated
RADAR system has to work
from outer space all the way
to the ground and
look for the ground,
what if it locked up
on the heat shield,
well we’ve tried to
avoid that problem,
we fixed that problem we think
to prevent that from happening,
but what if we got it wrong,
things like that can happen,
and our vehicle could
have things bad happen,
but we have worked
hard to prevent them.
– So we’re getting close,
we’re gonna go to the control
room for cruise
stage separation Rob.
– Okay.
I need to take off.
Yes, yes.
– [Man] InSight
systems, EDL COMM.
– [Woman] Go-ahead?
– [Man] At this time MRO
will have loaded their
electro sequences,
and MarCO is expecting
carrier lock any time,
MarCO B has recorded
they’re in bent pipe,
still waiting on A.
– [Woman] Copy that, thank you.
– [Man] Radio Science report,
UHF carrier detected.
– [Man] EDL COMM, MarCO
Alpha is an bent pipe mode,
MarCO bravo has
locked on the carrier.
MarCO Alpha has also
locked on carrier.
[people applaud]
– [Man] Systems based
on InSight court,
as expected the DSN
has LS inside x-band.
– Copy that, thank you.
All station InSight
systems on InSight core,
DSN has lost the X-band
signal from InSight,
indicated at expected
cruise stage separation.
Standing by for UHF
signal acquisition
via MarCO radio science.
We are about five
minutes from entry,
and have confirmation
we have lost
the X-band signal from InSight,
this was expected because
we have transitioned
from the antenna
on the cruise stage
to the UHF antenna
aboard the spacecraft.
Ground stations have
detected UHF signal
and MarCO has locked
on the signal,
this confirms that InSight
is transmitting UHF
signals as expected.
InSight telemetry
through the MarCO relay
is not expected till about
two minutes before entry.
– [Gay] So Rob that was exactly
what we were hoping here,
that the MarCOs are–
– The vehicle has also performed
the turn to entry maneuver,
the vehicle is turning away
from the sun pointing altitude,
and oriented itself to enter
the Martian atmosphere.
– This is a big first step,
just getting the
cruise stage separated,
After the vehicle turns itself
to the right orientation,
The cruise stage is now
going to get further
and further away
till it’s about three
or four football fields
away and will burn
up in parallel as the
vehicle enters Mars.
– And Christine
mentioned turn to entry,
what does that mean?
– Well it’s because
the cruise stage
has to be pushed off
to one side like this,
the rest of the vehicle has to
turn to face the atmosphere,
and to be dead nuts on as it
hits the top of the atmosphere.
– [Gay] So this is
taking all the heat
coming into the atmosphere?
– Exactly,
it’ll both provide
a source for drag,
but also thermal protection,
because it gets over
1500 degrees Celsius
on this heat shield,
very, very hot,
but on the inside
of the heat shield,
it’s maybe only a few degrees
above room temperature,
so it’s a wonderful
protector device
to keep our lander safe.
– Alright so the next thing
were standing by for is,
– Is entry.
– Entry.
– Getting to the top
of the atmosphere
and gradually slowing down,
Right now the vehicle
is just now beginning,
very soon will be
beginning to feel
the atmosphere touching it,
actually entry is above
the atmosphere slightly,
so it’s really not till
half a minute or so
after entry before we really
start detecting the fact
that that atmosphere
is slowing us down.
– Alright, we’ll be standing by.
– Yes, exciting.
– [Gay] Rob, now entry
is scheduled for 11:47,
the cruise stage set
and the entry times
are locked in correct?
– [Rob] They are,
they are locked in when
we selected the target
and aimed the vehicle
very precisely,
that allows us to know exactly
when we hit the entry point,
which is 35 to 55 kilometers
from the center of Mars.
– [Gay] So we know those
times are locked in,
but what about all the other
events that take place–
– [Man] Radio Science
reports dropping
carrier power as expected.
– [Man] MarCO A and
MarCO B have telemetry.
[people applaud]
– [Gay] Just heard, both
MarCO’s have telemetry.
– [Rob] They are
doing their job,
these small Cubesats are
relaying ones and zeros
with a few seconds lag From
the vehicle up to
these two vehicles,
and they forward
them back to Earth
to the deep space network
using X-band antennas,
– And keep in mind this
was all an experiment,
we weren’t sure that
this was going to work,
but we had this
need that we didn’t
have live communication in
this particular mission.
– Well we don’t really
need communications,
we don’t need their information,
except if something went wrong,
we would very much like
to get the data right now,
we have other spacecraft.
– [Christine] We are
now receiving InSight
telemetry via the MarCO really.
[people applaud]
– Ah, it’s flowing
into it, fabulous.
That means the
team now can watch
the data flowing onto
their screens as if
they’re communicating
directly with the vehicle.
– This data will provide
detailed information
about the state of the
spacecraft throughout EDL.
– [Gay] We were on pins and
needles waiting for that,
because we weren’t really sure.
– [Rob] This is wonderful news,
if this continues
working all the way
to the ground and beyond,
we might even see a
first picture from
the surface of Mars.
– [Gay] Wouldn’t that be great?
– [Rob] Very soon.
– [Christine] Atmospheric
entry on my mark,
three, two, one, mark.
– [Gay] Here we go.
– [Rob] So in a few seconds
the vehicle will start
sensing the atmosphere,
22 kilometers from
the center of Mars,
and it’s gonna start
to slow down very
very slowly at first,
but then faster and
faster and faster,
till it reaches about seven Gs,
I made that mistake
on the video,
it’s actually seven Gs not 12,
but it will still very,
very quickly slow down,
from 15–
– In approximately one minute,
InSight is expected to reach
its maximum heating rate,
plasma blackout is possible
during peak heating,
and could cause a temporary
drop out of telemetry,
this could last for as
long as two minutes.
– [Rob] The gas that comes
off the heat shield
as it’s slowing down,
it looks like a meteor
if you’re on Mars
watching the streak go by,
that brightness of
gas does interfere
with the radio reception,
so it’s possible
that MarCO will lose
that signal while going
through this very hot entry.
– [Gay] But not to be alarmed.
– [Rob] Not to be alarmed,
it’s part of the design,
we completely expect it.
– [Man] Radio science reports
plasma blackouts as expected.
– [Rob] Okay, oh wow.
– Ground stations have
reported plasma blackout,
still receiving InSight
telemetry via MarCO.
– [Man] MarCO Alpha has
carrier interruption.
– InSight should now
be experiencing the
peak heating rate,
portions of the heat
shield may reach
nearly 3000 degrees
Fahrenheit as it protects
the lander from the
heating environment.
– [Rob] That’s hot.
– [Man] MarCO Bravo has
carrier interruption,
but still in lock.
– InSight has passed
through peak deceleration,
telemetry shows the
spacecraft at about 8 Gs.
– [Man] MarCO Alpha and
MarCO Bravo maintain lock.
– [Man] Radio science
reports carrier detected.
– [Gay] Several different
communications coming in.
– InSight is now
traveling at a velocity
of 2000 meters per second.
– [Rob] It seems to have
passed this very critical
point of peak heating
and peak deceleration.
The next big step is
parachute inflation.
– [Gay] You can see
that on our timeline
on the bottom of the screen,
the next event is
parachute deploy.
– InSight is now traveling
at 1000 meters per second.
Once InSight slows to
about 400 meters per second
it will deploy its 12 meter
diameter supersonic parachute,
the parachute will deploy
nominally at about Mach 1.7.
Standing by for
parachute deploy.
– [Man] Radio science reports
sudden change in Doppler.
– [Christine] Ground stations
are observing signals
consistent with
parachute deploy.
[people applaud]
– [Man] MarCO Alpha
and MarCO Bravo
maintain locked status.
– [Christine] Telemetry
shows parachute deployment,
RADAR powered on.
[people applaud]
Heat shield
separation commanded.
– [Rob] This is really
good news so far.
– [Gay] It’s fantastic.
– [Rob] I’m on pins and needles.
– We have RADAR activation
where the RADAR is beginning
to search for the ground,
once the RADAR
locks on the ground,
and InSight is about one
kilometer above the surface,
the lander will separate
from the back shell
and begin terminal descent
using its 12 descent engines.
Altitude convergence, the
RADAR has locked on the ground.
[people applaud]
Standing by for the
lander separation.
– [Man] Carrier interruption
on MarCO Alpha and MarCO Bravo.
– [Christine] Lander
separation commanded,
altitude 600 meters.
Gravity turn,
altitude 400 meters.
– [Rob] We’re getting there.
– 300 meters.
200 meters.
80 meters.
60 meters.
50 meters, constant velocity,
37 meters,
30 meters,
20 meters,
17 meters,
standing by for touchdown.
Touchdown confirmed.
[people cheer and applaud]
– [Gay] That’s fantastic.
– [Rob] This never gets old.
– [Gay] No it doesn’t Rob,
the control room just erupted.
– [Rob] Fabulous, fabulous.
– [Gay] Command of
the MarCO team there.
– [Rob] The MarCO
team did great,
Ted Reising, one of the
key designers of Lockheed.
Sandy Krasner,
they are a great team.
This is really fabulous.
– [Gay] Fantastic news.
– [Rob] [laughs] Thank you.
– [Gay] Lots of fist
pumping going on in there.
What a relief,
we have cut over to the
camera over in Times Square,
people are weathering
the rain to see this.
[people cheering]
– [Rob] They can’t help it.
This is the hardest part,
getting to the
surface and landing,
this thing has a lot
more to do though,
there’s a lot more
to go on both today
and the days that follow
before the science can begin,
but just getting a
vehicle from Earth
to the surface of
Mars is no mean feat.
– [Gay] And Rob, could
you talk about that,
just the mere accomplishment
here that we’re seeing.
– You have to understand,
this vehicle is
very complicated,
it uses 12 engines,
each of those engines are
pulsed 10 times a second,
producing these
little tiny impulses,
almost like little
bullets that keep
the vehicle going at
a constant velocity
as it approaches the ground,
and still going over
five miles an hour,
so those legs feel a
fair amount of crush,
we still don’t know the state
of the vehicle right now,
we need to look to make sure
there are no rocks nearby,
the solar panels in about five
to 10 minutes will
begin to open up,
they’re waiting for
the dust to settle,
because there is certainly
a lot of dust being lifted
in the air around the
vehicle right now,
which is now just settling.
– [Gay] So we’re standing by,
after touchdown
it waits a couple
of minutes to give
us an X-band beep,
so we are standing by for that,
it’s a communication
that comes directly
to Earth from InSight.
– [Rob] Yes,
and it goes to the
Deep Space Network,
there’s also something that
might be happening now,
if we are very lucky,
InSight might be able
to relay an image
or a partial image taken just
a couple of minutes
after landing,
so I’m standing by
hoping to see that,
but if that doesn’t happen,
we’ll certainly get more images
later in our Odyssey pass
in about five hours.
– [Gay] We see Bruce
Banerdt waiting for it,
I don’t know if they see it yet.
– [Rob] They are waiting,
that’s Justin Mackie
and Bruce Banerdt
looking carefully at the cameras
to see what they might see.
They’re waiting for
the image to come back.
– [Gay] So this is the first
image from InSight itself,
InSight is taking a picture
with one of its two cameras,
it’s probably a view
of what is directly
in front of the spacecraft,
right in front of the lander,
this is a camera that it
will be using to figure out
is this a good space,
is it a good place to
put down our instruments,
so it is going to take an image
and then send that
image to the MarCOs,
the MarCOs in turn will
relay it back to Earth.
– [Rob] That’s
great, they got it.
[people cheer and applaud]
This is great, let’s
see what they’ve got.
There it is.
– [Gay] There’s the picture.
– [Rob] That’s a good site,
that’s not far from where
they’ll be able to
deploy the instruments,
so it’s great,
I don’t see a lot of–
– [Gay] Let’s
explain that image,
now this image has a
dust cover on top of it.
– [Man] EDL COMM, we have
lost the signal from MarCO.
– [Rob] You can see
potentially a lot of–
– [Man] Radio signs
reports loss for UHF.
– [Rob] So we don’t know
what I’m looking at.
– Thank you everybody
– [Man] Trusty job MarCO.
– [Rob] Yay, MarCO.
[people applaud]
But there it is,
you can see a better view,
you can see that
really is debris,
there is the horizon back there,
the bluish sky,
that’s part of the lander
deck on the front left,
I can’t make out,
but it looks like
there’s not a lot
of rocks in the field of view,
but those dots you see
there are very likely
to be dust particles
on the dust cover,
which will be removed.
– [Gay] And will get
another shot later on.
– [Rob] Yes.
And a better clearer view after
the dust cover is removed,
Cubesats relay
communications job is done,
they’re now flying on,
they’re now taking
pictures back toward Mars,
hopefully MRO
which flew overhead
might have been lucky enough
to capture the descent
of this InSight Lander
under its parachute,
while this was going on,
MRO was flying overhead
recording the data,
and also monitoring
the transactions,
and recording every
bit of signal it could,
but it also had the
ability to take a picture,
maybe like we did with Phoenix
and later for Curiosity Rover,
we might be able to see
the parachute inflated.
– [Gay] That would be fantastic,
we are standing by now
for that X-band beep,
InSight phoning home saying
I’m here, and I’m okay.
[crowd murmuring]
– [Man] Systems on InSight core,
the DSM and X-band.
– [Man] Radio science reports
X-band carrier detected.
[people cheer and applaud]
[man mumbles off microphone]
– [Man] Four and a half minutes
with InSight in nominal mode.
– [Woman] Copy that, thank you.
– [Rob] Flawless,
– [Gay] Perfect,
– [Rob] Flawless,
– [Gay] We’ve got the beep,
this was a perfect case
scenario in my book.
– [Rob] This is
what we really hoped
and imagined in our minds eye,
we spent a lot of
time visualizing
all these bad things can happen,
but sometimes things
work out in your favor.
And we’ll look very
carefully at the data
and see how well it went,
but it certainly
looked like it was
a very successful
and perfect landing,
we’ll have to see as we get
more data how well things go,
as the vehicle proceeds the
solar panels will be deployed,
hopefully were not on a tilt,
it doesn’t look like
we are from the image,
but the solar panels will
be deployed safely we hope,
and we’ll get
confirmation of that
around five o’clock local time
here in about four and a
half to five hours from now.
– [Gay] And this is
such a difficult feat,
in that because of
the one-way lag time,
there is no way that
any of these engineers
could possibly
control the vehicle,
it all has to be done in
commands and software.
– [Rob] Yes,
we have to train it to
do this work on its own.
– [Man] Radio science
reports nominal carrier
30 seconds past the
first acquisition,
so we are nominal
on the surface.
– [Rob] So the vehicle
is completely nominal,
reported nominal,
it’s happy,
the lander is not complaining,
we had a way to tell
us if it was unhappy,
and it wasn’t,
it’s not unhappy,
it’s in normal mode,
and so it’s gonna chug
along for the rest
of the afternoon on Mars
and finish the activities.
– [Gay] Alright well Rob
I know you’re anxious
to get in and
congratulate the crew,
thank you so much for sitting
here and helping us out.
– It was my pleasure.
– And explaining EDL.
– Thank you.
– Alright, well I’ll let you go,
and go congratulate
your friend’s.
– Thank you.
– Alright, take care.
– [Man] EDL COMM on
InSight ops recording
completed at 20:04:34.
– Alright,
as we had promised we said we
bring back the administrator
to get your take
on what was it like
to be in that control room,
Jim, what was it like?
– Well I’ll tell you,
it was intense,
and you could feel the emotion,
it was very, very quiet when
it was time to be quiet,
and of course very
celebratory with every little
new piece of information
that was received,
it’s very different being here
than watching it on TV by far,
I can tell you that for sure
now that I’ve experienced both,
and then of course,
what’s amazing is as
soon as it was over,
I got a call on my cell phone,
and the phone number
with all zeros,
and whenever I get a phone
call that’s all zeros
it’s got to be
somebody important,
I answered it,
and it was the vice president,
he watched the whole thing,
he is absolutely ecstatic
about our program,
as you are aware,
he’s the chairman
of the National Space Council,
and he’s been of course a
keen advocate for what we do,
and to have him call within
seconds of mission success,
is tremendous,
and just so everybody knows,
he wants me to say
to everybody here at NASA,
and all of our
international partners,
and everybody who has
contributed to this mission,
what an amazing day for NASA.
– It is an amazing
in that this is something
that is happening millions
and millions and
millions of miles away,
and these people
are able to do it.
– Incredible,
and what’s fascinating is,
the whole time I’m
watching it I’m thinking,
every milestone is something
that happened eight minutes ago,
because that’s
the timelag to get
a signal from Mars to Earth,
so it’s exciting,
but then you have to
step back and realize
that this has already
occurred in history,
so it’s an unique experience,
incredible, just the
enthusiasm here is incredible.
– So what’s for the future,
looking ahead, 2020?
– Well let’s get
through December,
so for the rest,
we think about happening next,
December 3rd, we’re lunching
another American astronaut
to the International
Space Station,
so that’s gonna be
a big achievement,
and it’s gonna be on a
Russian Soyuz rocket,
the last time we launched
a human was not successful.
– [Gay] That was scary.
– It was scary,
but we figured out
what the problem is,
we’re moving forward,
and now we’ve got that
underway on December 3rd.
Going forward from there,
we’re gonna get the
first science data back
from the Parker Solar
Probe on December 7th,
so that’s not too
far away either,
and then we’ve got Osiris Rex,
that will be in orbit around
Benu shortly after Christmas,
so no shortage of
exciting things.
And then on January 1st,
we’re gonna to fly the
New Horizons mission,
which for people
who are not aware,
that’s the mission that
went to Pluto back in 2014,
give us stunning images and
data and science on Pluto,
and now that mission
is still going strong,
it’s in what we call
the Kuiper Belt now,
which is an asteroid
belt well beyond Pluto,
and it’s gonna be taking
images of Ultima Thule,
which is an object
in the Khyber belt
which we have never been
able to go out there
and take images of anything
at close range before,
and now we’re doing it,
so you ask what’s
happening next.
– I’m sorry I asked.
– We have right now at NASA,
there is more underway,
probably than I don’t
know how many years past,
but it’s like there’s a drought,
and then all of a sudden there’s
all of these
activities all at once,
so we’re busy,
we’re gonna be working
through the holiday,
but a lot of amazing
discoveries to be made,
and we’re looking forward to it.
– It’s so funny,
because our ask NASA question
you basically answered,
is does the success of
NASA InSight influence
the timeline for future
manned lunar or Mars missions?
– Well certainly everything
we learn about Mars
at this point is gonna
help us understand
how to do in situ
resource utilization,
so InSight could
actually provide
some really good
information about whether
or not there is
liquid water on Mars,
and maybe even where it
is and how to get to it,
we strongly believe that
there’s liquid water
10 kilometers under
the surface of Mars,
so the key is,
the answer is yes,
the more we learn the more
we’re able to achieve,
so to get to Mars yes.
But the lunar missions,
the president’s space
first policy directive,
is to go to the moon,
to go sustainably
with international
and commercial partners,
so when we say sustainably,
that means we’re
gonna have reusability
built into the system,
and we’re gonna test and prove
technologies at the moon,
which ultimately we
can replicate at Mars,
so we’re gonna retire at risk,
prove human physiology
at the moon,
which is only a
three day journey,
which means if
something goes wrong,
you can get home safely,
we saw that with Apollo 13,
but we need to use the
moon as a proving ground
to accelerate our path to Mars,
in the meantime,
we’re doing missions
like InSight
to learn as much about
Mars as possible,
InSight is gonna help us
understand asteroid
impacts as well,
because it’s got a seismometer,
which is gonna help us know
how often is Mars getting
impacted with asteroids,
and if we’re gonna
send humans there,
it would be important to know,
if those humans are gonna
experience asteroid impacts.
– And that’s pretty
much our goal,
is always learned
from our missions
and build upon those missions.
– One after another,
and NASA has a long
history of doing amazing
work in building on
its past successes,
and in fact its past failures.
– That’s true.
– I’ll tell you,
what an amazing time
to be at the helm
of this extraordinary agency.
– Well we are so glad that you
are here to share it with us,
thanks for joining us.
– Well Gay, it’s
been a true pleasure.
– And I’m sure you
need to go in there
and celebrate with those folks,
but thank you for
stepping out for us.
– Absolutely, thank you so much.
– Alright, take care.
Now Mars exploration
is cool stuff,
but if you’re not
convinced just yet,
just talk to the InSight
scientists and engineers,
no one conveys the
excitement more
than the people who actually
work on the mission,
so earlier this year the
outreach team filled up a van
and went to 15
Californian cities,
they called it the
InSight Roadshow.
[upbeat music]
– So we are here in San
Francisco at the Exploratorium,
and this is part of
InSight’s roadshow,
since it’s the first
inter-planetary mission
we’ve ever launched
from California,
we’re actually doing a lot of
public engagement activities
along California.
– We’re just talking
to the public,
and talking to them
about InSight and
getting them excited,
and sharing information
that they probably
wouldn’t get just
from the website.
– We have Mars globes
and technical kits,
we have replicas of the
actual launch vehicle
that’s gonna be taking
InSight to Mars,
we have a selfie
station with fun props,
people can take pictures.
Children really,
really like Mars.
– We have a jump station,
where we invite kids
to come in and jump,
we have a little
seismometer on the floor,
which measures ground motion,
so if students can come
and jump next to it,
they can actually see their
own recording on the screen,
and they can make
their own quake.
– I’ve had people come
to me and say this
is the most I’ve ever understood
about a space mission,
I’m so happy I came,
because now I understand
what you’re doing,
I understand why it’s important,
and I’m really excited.
– You kind of
imagine how it looks,
but seeing it in person
actually puts it in perspective.
She was able to explain
a lot of what happens,
the cameras, what
goes into the ground,
it’s a great exhibit you know,
both for myself,
and also for kids
that want to learn about Mars.
– Okay, we want you to meet
another Mars
veteran here at JPL,
hardware director Mike Hawkins.
You are a mission
manager for curiosity.
– Absolutely,
I think this is the fifth
Mars mission I’ve worked on,
the fifth Mars lander,
so maybe we are getting
the hang of it finally.
– Does it ever get better,
does it get old,
is it always the same?
– No it doesn’t,
I think we are just
as nervous every time,
the whole landing sequence,
it’s just such a crazy time,
and we can’t do anything,
it’s this feeling
of helplessness
because the spacecraft
is on its own,
and everything we could
do we did a day ago,
and so I think you always
have that nervousness,
but we have confidence
in the team,
we have confidence in the
engineers and scientists
that they did everything
that they could do,
and you have to put
it in their hands.
– And it’s our eighth
successful landing,
so we learn from this,
we learn a little more and we do
it better the next
time pretty much.
– Absolutely,
we have had one failure,
we learn from the failures too,
we learned from all the
failures from all the missions,
even if they are not JPL
missions or NASA missions,
each one of them tells
you a little something,
an extra test you should do,
an extra thing you
should guard against
in the Mars atmosphere
or on touchdown,
and so we have learned
from all of these,
and luckily we have recently
been very successful.
– And we’re always
trying something new,
we’re always trying to
learn something new,
we had a situation this time,
Odyssey couldn’t be in place
to give us bent
pipe communications,
and so MarCO came about.
– MarCO is just a
incredible success story,
as you said we couldn’t
have Mars Odyssey
do the real-time bent pipe
for the EDL events,
we would have had to
wait a couple of hours,
and get the replay from
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter,
so we embarked on
this crazy idea
to build these two
little Cubesats,
and Cubesats or something
that high school kids
can build these days,
they go up and go
around the Earth,
these are the first
interplanetary Cubesats,
first time we’ve
ever sent Cubesats
outside the Earth’s orbit,
and their sole purpose
was to do the relay,
so they had this very
cool expand planar
flat antenna there,
and they relayed the UHF
signals in real time for us,
and it was just amazing,
it was built by a lot
of early career folks
here at JPL with a little
bit of adult supervision,
but no the engineers just
did a fantastic job on MarCO,
they exceeded all of our
wildest expectations,
they worked perfectly,
we built two because we thought
maybe one will get there,
they both got there,
they both worked,
it’s just a great tribute
to the whole MarCO team,
you saw them in there,
they had the special
black shirts,
just a fantastic thing,
and not only did it
work for this mission,
but I think it opens up the door
for more small
missions like that,
we could actually put cameras
on them and other
instruments on them,
they’re much less expensive,
so there’s I think
a whole new door,
we just opened a door to
a whole new class of
planetary science,
thanks to the MarCOs.
– And the Cubesats they were
just made with
off-the-shelf parts.
– Some combination of
off-the-shelf parts,
and some new stuff that we did,
we had to build the
special radio of course
because it has to talk to
the deep space network,
The antennas are a little
bit new technology,
but a lot of the stuff
is pretty standard stuff
that you could replicate
at much lower cost.
– So what do you think
in terms of the future
that other missions will be
carrying their own relays
and not having to depend on
a bent pipe from an orbiter?
– They might carry relays,
they might actually carry
scientific instrumentation,
they can do more
than just do relay,
they can actually take pictures,
they could do spectrometry,
they could do lots
of other stuff
that we would like
to do with orbiters,
so there’s a chance we
could send them to Venus,
we could send them to asteroids,
we could send them to Mars,
there’s lots of stuff
that we could do
and I think we’re just
learning the capability
of what we could miniaturize
and what we could put
on these Cubesats.
But this is a
great first effort.
– Absolutely,
well we have one
question for you,
it’s a social media question
from George Kay, aged nine
from the UK,
how long did it take to plan
and build this mission, InSight?
– Well that’s a great question,
so I have two answers to that,
InSight itself,
typically our missions take,
from the time we start
the mission to the
time we launch it,
it’s about four to five years,
in the case of InSight
two things happened.
One to our advantage and
one not to our advantage.
The first is we had a lot
of heritage from a
mission called Phoenix.
So a lot of the design
work had already been done,
because it was done for
this mission Phoenix,
and even before that
for Mars Polar Lander,
so a lot of the basic design
we inherited for this mission.
On the other hand we had
a little bit of bad luck
In that the instruments,
the seismometer is so
unbelievably precise,
it’s so incredibly
accurate and hard to build
that we couldn’t
quite get it ready,
so we’re doing that in
partnership with the French
and a lot of other
countries in Europe,
including the UK and
Switzerland and other folks,
we couldn’t quite get that
ready to go for launch,
so we had to actually
wait two years,
it took an extra two years
then because of that,
so Mars and the
Earth are only lined
up to launch about
every 26 months,
so we had to wait
another 26 months,
so that took us a
little bit longer.
– Well speaking of
the internationals
that’s a perfect segue for
where we’re going next,
throughout this program
we’ve been trying
to introduce you to the
people behind the scenes,
and for the InSight mission
it requires that we
go beyond our borders,
this is truly an
international mission,
let me introduce you
to Dominico Giardini,
a Swiss Italian scientist
who studies Earthquakes
and Marsquakes.
– And that partnership goes
far beyond individual
take a look at this,
it is a picture
of the calibration
tool on the deck of
the InSight Lander,
it’s what the team uses to
calibrate the cameras on Mars,
and notice the flags and logos,
its recognition of our
international partnerships
with the French Government
Space Agency CNES,
and also the German
Aerospace Center DLR,
and it is my pleasure to welcome
site project manager
Philippe Laudet
from CNES,
and executive board member
Hans Dittus from DLR.
So I can’t imagine a better day,
what was your reaction.
– A really great day, yeah.
– So I am very enthusiastic,
I am very grateful for all
the people on the mission,
also my folk who are
going to the team,
the CNES team and the
science team [mumbles],
now we have a barebones
picture of the ground,
and now the work to deploy
the seismometer is beginning,
so a new adventure in
the best conditions,
thank you for that.
– Definitely a new adventure.
Hans Dittus, what
you’re feeling,
the HP cube is on that deck,
it will be ready to go.
– Yes, now it’s our job now,
but first the fall I’d like
to congratulate our
partners here in the US,
and this was a great day
and a great job they did,
it’s not easy to land on Mars,
that’s what we know,
and it’s a dream for me as well,
because the first time
that we land on Mars
with an instrument, at least
as I has experienced it,
so it’s a great day,
and it’s really exciting so far,
now the job starts for us.
– Philippe you had once said,
you are a musician as well,
he plays jazz,
you see exploration
and music very similar,
how’s that?
– Yes they are very similar,
because human management
of all that activity
is exactly the same,
the technique it’s different,
you have a seismometer
or you have an orchestra,
but the raw theme to find
the best talents and things
like that are the same,
and to deliver on time,
to be ready,
and to have the
best performances,
everything is similar.
– And we should let people know
that we won’t be able to
collect science right away,
is that correct?
– Yeah.
– We will be will be
collecting science,
what several months from now?
– The deployment is going to
take about two or three months,
of course we will have some
data during the deployments,
but the best data to
make the best science
will be about the
beginning of March.
– Alright so–
– So we prepared now.
– We prepare are now.
– Yeah now it’s the time,
but it was a great job
so far also for our team,
and our teams,
all the teams,
and as you said it
needs a lot of people
to bring it up to Mars and
make a successful mission.
– Well I have to
say congratulations.
– Thank you.
– Thank you.
– Thank you for joining us.
Well here’s another profile now,
Meet Ravi Prakash,
it’s his job to keep
InSight healthy on Mars.
– We get to explore the universe
and see things that no
one has ever seen before,
my name is Ravi Prakash,
and my job is to keep InSight
healthy when it’s on Mars.
InSight is the first spacecraft
that is going to go to Mars,
and try to understand how
rocky planets have formed.
A healthy InSight spacecraft
is healthy batteries,
we have heaters all
over our spacecraft
that keep our
spacecraft warm enough
so that it operates
the way it should.
We look at these things as well
as many other parts of our
spacecraft on a daily basis
to make sure we have
a successful mission.
There are thousands of
people working on InSight,
so the systems
engineers responsible
for understanding
how changing one part
of the spacecraft ripples
through the entire system,
and how that affects all the
other parts of the spacecraft.
I actually worked at
JPL for eight years,
and then left for
about three years
to work for a non-profit,
where I used my engineering
and design skills
that I learned at NASA to
help people in poverty.
I realize that the stuff we
do here impacts billions
of people around the world,
every single person,
whether they realize it
or not has been impacted
by NASA technology.
We are the next
generation of explorers.
– Alright let’s meet
Ravi Prakash in person.
Ravi is in our sandbox at JPL
In Situ Instrument Laboratory,
and wait a minute Ravi, where
did that beard come from?
– Hi Gay, there were about
10 of us that decided
on the day we launched to
Mars that we we’re gonna shave
and then not shave again
for seven months
until we land on Mars,
so I am extra-excited
that we landed,
not only because we have a
mission on the surface of Mars,
but I have two little girls
at home who love
to pull my beard,
so I can finally
put an end to that.
– Alright so Ravi help us out,
what happens next,
now clearly InSight is not out
of the woods just yet, correct?
– Yeah right,
so we have some very
important steps ahead of us,
the first is that we have
to deploy our solar arrays,
this is what the spacecraft
is doing right now,
it’s deploying these
two solar arrays
so we get energy from the sun,
this is one of the
most important things
that we have to do right now.
After that, we’re gonna
do a serious of checkups
on our spacecraft to make
sure that everything survived
this harrowing entry, descent
and landing onto Mars,
and then once that’s
complete after
the next few days
will start deploying
our instruments onto
the surface of Mars.
– So what exactly is involved
with the instrument deployment?
– So this is the
first time we’re using
a robotic arm to put instruments
on the surface of Mars.
This is a process that will
put our seismometer on Mars
as well as the heat flow probe,
and it ends up taking
about three months,
which sounds like
a really long time,
but this is because we
have to be very careful
and make sure everything happens
just the way it needs to,
unlike Earth we can’t send
a technician if
something goes wrong,
and so we just want to get
it right the first time.
– Alright, and in our interview
we just heard that
we may be looking
at not until March
before we get science.
– That’s right, we get some
amount of science immediately
as far as the
environment of Mars,
we get wind data,
temperature data,
magnetometer data,
but then once we start
getting seismic data,
that will be in the
March timeframe.
– And can you explain
to me Ravi, the ISL,
the testbed that you’re at,
what do you do there?
– So this is a Martian sandbox,
for the past two years we’ve had
a great team that’s been testing
deploying our instruments
on a variety of different
slopes and rocks,
now that we actually
are on Mars,
we’re gonna transform this area
to look exactly like
the place we landed,
and test out deploying
our instruments
one more time before we
do it on the real thing.
– Alright thanks
Ravi, congratulations.
– Thanks so much.
– Now that InSight is on Mars,
it means some changes,
InSight is no longer
cruising to Mars,
so the team no longer needs the
cruise mission support area,
in a little while the team
will handover operations
to a new group sitting in
another JPL control room,
this is the Surface
Mission Support Area.
It’s in another
building here at JPL,
this is where the team will
be operating InSight
from here on.
So the handover
is the final step,
and that will take place at
about one o’clock our time,
that’s about a half hour away,
for us it’s time to say goodbye,
our congratulations
to the InSight team,
and special thanks to
our EDL system engineers,
Christine Szalai and
Julie Wertz Chen,
stand by for a news
briefing on NASA TV
at two PM Pacific,
five PM Eastern,
and for those of you who want
the latest information
on InSight and Mars,
go to Mars.NASA.gov/InSight,
and NASA.gov/Mars,
and thank you all who shared
pictures on social media,
it was wonderful to share
this historic event with you,
we have some pictures for you
that we’ll leave you with,
and congratulations InSight.
[upbeat music]

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