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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) – NASA’s new Mars lander has placed a quake monitor on the planet’s dusty red surface.
The milestone occurred less than a month after Mars InSight’s touchdown.
InSight’s robotic arm removed the seismometer from the spacecraft deck and set it on the ground Wednesday to monitor Mars quakes.
Whew – winding down after a long day, but I’ve done it: I’ve placed my seismometer on the surface of Mars! With SEIS, I’ll be able to listen in for marsquakes and help reveal the heartbeat of #Mars. https://t.co/GYNO4txPPi pic.twitter.com/18eQHXOfiO
— NASA InSight (@NASAInSight) December 20, 2018
Project manager Tom Hoffman calls it “an awesome Christmas present.”
It’s the first time a robotic arm has lowered an experiment onto the Martian surface. The ground is slightly tilted so flight controllers still need to make the seismometer level.
InSight’s arm will swing back into action next month to place a wind cover over the seismometer and to set down another experiment. The heat probe, dubbed the mole, will burrow up to 16 feet (5 meters) into Mars to measure internal temperatures.
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