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Journal Articles Acta Astronautica Year : 2023

Deployment and surface operations of the SEIS instrument onboard the InSight mission

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Abstract

On November 26th 2018, the InSight spacecraft successfully landed on Mars after a 6-month journey. After a long deployment and commissioning phase, the SEIS (Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure) instrument was ready to monitor seismic events on the Elysium Planitia plain on the surface of Mars, coupled with the APSS (Auxiliary Payload Sensor Suite) weather station equipped with a magnetometer, wind sensors, and a pressure sensor. The InSight mission goal is to characterize the deep interior structure of Mars, including the thickness and structure of the crust, the composition and structure of the mantle, and the size of the core. Its nominal duration of two years (2019-2020) has yielded unprecedented results with the detection of the first Martian seismic events ever recorded, and the in-depth characterization of its atmosphere with the best weather station ever deployed on Mars. InSight has collected an outstanding amount of high-quality measurements that the scientific community will spend many years analyzing. The extended mission has started and covers the years 2021 and 2022. This paper will describe the operations of the SEIS experiment on Mars since landing, as well as the challenges of operating this instrument. Energy becomes increasingly limited for payloads on Mars due to a significant amount of dust accumulated on the solar panels and the many dust storms in the Martian atmosphere. A new activity was decided for the extended mission in 2021 which consisted in burying the seismometer cable (or tether) with Martian regolith collected locally using the robotic arm, in order to reduce the seismic noise from that subsystem. Preparation activities, testing, results, associated challenges and lessons learned will be presented. Moreover, the paper will address the challenges faced in carrying out operations with COVID-related constraints, as finding oneself operating a seismometer on Mars from home can be challenging. Finally, management of periods of solar conjunctions, during which communication between Earth and Mars is unavailable, will be addressed.

Dates and versions

hal-03938815 , version 1 (13-01-2023)

Identifiers

Cite

Charles Yana, Rémi Lapeyre, Emilien Gaudin, Kenneth Hurst, Philippe Lognonné, et al.. Deployment and surface operations of the SEIS instrument onboard the InSight mission. Acta Astronautica, 2023, 202, pp.772-781. ⟨10.1016/j.actaastro.2022.10.010⟩. ⟨hal-03938815⟩
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