In late November NASA shared the first image InSight took of its Martian surroundings. NASA is now sharing a picture of InSight as it gets ready to use its robotic arm to get to work. The arm has a reach of about 6-feet and is meant to pick up science instruments from the deck of the lander.
Once the arm has those science experiments in its hands, it will place them gently onto the surface of Mars. Before placing the instruments, the arm will use the Instrument Deployment Camera that sits on its elbow to take photos of the terrain in front of the lander.
The images will be used by mission controllers on Earth to determine where to place the InSight seismometer and heat flow probe. Placement of the instruments is critical and another camera called the Context Camera under the lander deck will offer views of the workspace.
NASA notes that with this phase of the mission being so critical that it could be two or three months before the instruments are placed and calibrated. Engineers on the mission team have been testing the instruments and spacecraft systems over the past week and a half to ensure they are working correctly.
Some of the instruments are already recording data; one registered a drop in air pressure possibly caused by a passing dust devil. NASA did run into an issue last weekend when images from the arm camera were supposed to be sent home and were interrupted. The team was able to overcome that issue.