First Engine Burn by NASA’s InSight Mars lander

InSight Mars lander which was launched on May 5 this year fired up its engines for the very first time. The burn lasted for around forty seconds and involved four among the total eight thrusters of Mars Lander. The engine burn was induced to change the velocity by around 17.7 km/h (8.5 mph). The burn was monitored by the team in charge, and the team is going to perform at least five more burns before the final touchdown of Marks lander which is scheduled Later on November 26 this year.

The spacecraft had lifted off an Atlas V rocket after being scrubbed off meticulously. The cleaning is a part of the process that ensures the red planet stays clean without any contamination with the Earth microbes. The launch just like other Mars launched involved aiming the rocket off-target, and that is when the rocket flies into space.  The spacecraft is supposed to perform some of the trajectory corrections that guide the spacecraft to Red Planet. These movements make sure that the spacecraft stays clean as it lands on Mars.

The four of the eight thrusters that were not involved in this burn operation is also getting a continuous workout each day by firing autonomously to keep the solar panels facing the sun as well as keep the antenna facing the earth. These background burns are being monitored closely by the team to keep monitoring the impact on the trajectory because of these small movements. The next correction maneuver is scheduled for July 28. The additional four dates include October 12, November 11, November 18 and November 25. This information was made public in the press launch kit of the mission. 

Mars Lander will be spending two years on and around the red planet to monitor the heat flow, marsquakes and will simultaneously be gathering data that can be used to analyze the interior structure of the planet. This data will be used by the researchers to find out all about the evolution and formation of the rocky planets in general including the red planet itself. The name InSight is the shorter form for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport. InSight shared its launch with two small briefcase-sized satellites from the demonstration mission also known as Mars Cube One or MarCO. The MarCo CubeSat has already travelled deeper into space than any other CubeSat so far.