As of Tuesday, February 19, 2019, NASA's InSight Lander will provide a daily report of weather conditions on Mars. Developed by researchers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Cornell University and the Centro de Astrobiologia in Spain, it contains statistics on temperature, wind and atmospheric pressure recorded by the undercarriage.
Through a set of sensors called Auxiliary Payload Subsystem (APSS), InSight will provide more weather information 24 hours a day than any previous mission on the Martian surface.
The LG records these data every second of each soil (Martian day) and sends them daily to Earth. InSight is designed to continue this operation for at least the next two Earth years, which also allows it to study seasonal changes.
"It gives you the feeling of visiting a foreign place. Mars has familiar atmospheric phenomena that are still very different from those on Earth, "said Dr. Don Banfield of Cornell University.
Continuous meteorological data collection allows InSight team members to detect sources of "noise" that may affect readings from the two main landing gear instruments: the Seismic Experience for Interior Structure (SEIS) and the probe of heat flux and physical properties (HP).3). Both are affected by the extreme temperature variations of Mars.
SEIS is sensitive to changes in atmospheric pressure and wind, which create movements that could mask real earthquakes.
"APSS will help us filter environmental noise in seismic data and know when we are seeing an earthquake and when we are not. By operating continuously, we will also have a more detailed view of the weather than most surface missions, which typically collect data intermittently throughout a soil, "said Dr. Banfield.
The APSS includes an air pressure sensor inside the LG and two air and wind temperature sensors on the deck of the LG. .
A magnetometer is under the edge of the bridge and will measure changes in the local magnetic field that may also affect SEIS. This is the first magnetometer ever placed on the surface of another planet.
Two meteorological sensors, called TWINS (Temperature and Wind for InSight), will be used to tell the team when strong winds could interfere with small seismic signals. But it could also be used, with InSight cameras, to study the amount of dust and blown sand.
The APSS will also help researchers better understand the devils of dust left on the surface of the planet.
Dust devils are essentially low-pressure vortices, so InSight's atmospheric pressure sensor can detect when it's nearby. This is extremely sensitive – 10 times more than the equipment installed on the Viking and Pathfinder undercarriages – allowing the team to study dust clouds at hundreds of meters (12 meters).
"Our data has already shown that there were a lot of dust devils on our site. With such a sensitive pressure sensor, we're seeing more of it, "said Dr. Banfield.