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Emily LakdawallaFebruary 4, 2019

InSight Milestone: Wind and Thermal Shield Placed Sol 66

Just a brief update to point out that the InSight mission has successfully placed the wind and thermal shield over the seismometer. The seismometer will now be shielded from winds and kept warm over the cold Martian nights, so the quality of its data should dramatically increase. The next step for InSight is the placement of the heat probe instrument, which could happen as early as next week.

InSight places the SEIS wind and thermal shield, sol 66

NASA / JPL-Caltech / IPGP

InSight places the SEIS wind and thermal shield, sol 66
Placing the dome-shaped wind and thermal shield (WTS) is the last step in the physical configuration of InSight's SEIS instrument. With the benefit of the WTS' insulation, SEIS is able to operate around the Martian clock, even during the cold night. InSight placed the WTS on sol 66 (2 February 2019).

It took a couple of days for the skirt on the shield to relax and complete its connection with the ground, as the weight of the chain mail tugs on the tightly folded thermal blanketing material.

The InSight wind and thermal shield skirt relaxes

NASA / JPL-Caltech / IPGP

The InSight wind and thermal shield skirt relaxes
InSight's SEIS instrument wind and thermal shield includes a "skirt" made of gold-coated thermal blanket material, with a hem of chain mail. The weight of the chain mail pulls down on the thermal blanketing, slowly expanding it over the course of two Martian days.

Here's what that chain mail skirt looks like in real life.

The ForeSight wind and thermal shield skirt

NASA / JPL-Caltech / IPGP / Philippe Labrot

The ForeSight wind and thermal shield skirt
A closeup photo of the "skirt" on the wind and thermal shield on ForeSight, the duplicate of InSight that JPL engineers use to test its operations.

I think the engineers are pretty happy to have this step completed! 

Read more: InSight, mission status, Mars

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Emily Lakdawalla

Senior Editor and Planetary Evangelist for The Planetary Society
Read more articles by Emily Lakdawalla

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