NASA InSight Photos: Mars Lander Sends Photos of Extended Arm Ready For Mission

It’s been nearly two weeks since NASA successfully landed its InSIght lander on Mars and the craft is getting ready to start its important work on the planet.

The craft is going to help researchers learn about the interior of Mars and the planet’s history by digging under the surface of the planet to collect information about its makeup and history. NASA refers to the craft’s task of learning about the planet’s seismic waves as “taking the planet’s pulse.” The craft will also be measuring the heat flowing in and out of the planet and the planet’s motion.

insight arm A photo from the Mars InSight lander on Mars, received December 4. NASA

An image received Tuesday by NASA shows the craft with its arm outstretched the six feet it reaches. First, it will map the area around it in 3D and then use that map to determine where to put the mission instruments. The arm will move the science instruments from the lander and set them on the surface of the planet so they can start taking data reads.

The photo is one of many that came back from Mars this week showing the planet and the craft itself. The raw images the craft sends back to NASA are hosted on the InSight mission site where anyone can take a look at them all and see what the craft’s instruments see while on Mars.

The first image the lander sent back right after it made its successful landing was obstructed and difficult to make out because the lens cap was still on the camera but with the cap off the photos are far more clear now.

The lander is also sharing many of the photos on its Twitter account and sharing information about its progress on Mars.

"Today we can see the first glimpses of our workspace. "By early next week, we'll be imaging it in finer detail and creating a full mosaic," the principal investigator for the mission, Bruce Banerdt, said.

The craft is still moving cautiously as a precaution during the first few weeks on Mars, similar how to people take time to get their bearings when they’re in a new place. The craft was tested extensively on Earth before its May 5 launch and six-month journey through space but the operators back on Earth set the safety monitors built into the craft to be sensitive for the early days on the new planet, just to be on the safe side of exploring.​

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