After three weeks of checking out the scene on the Red Planet, NASA’s InSight landerhas placed its first scientific instrument on the Martian surface.
The probe’s robotic arm pulled InSight’s seismometer, known as the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure or SEIS, from the spacecraft’s deck on Dec. 19 and slowly, gingerly set it down on a flat spot directly in front of the lander. The arm stretched out to nearly its maximum reach, 5.367 feet away from the deck.
Deploying SEIS is a major milestone for InSight’s two-year mission to monitor seismic activity and internal heat flow on the Red Planet. (The mission’s name is an acronym that stands for “Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport.”)