Martian mission InSight: the SEIS seismometer is in good health

Status of NASA’s Deep Space Listening Network (DSN) when the InSight SEIS seismometer was first turned on in space on July 16, 2018. During the tests, the landing gear (code name NSYT) was in direct radio link with one of the 34 meter antennas of the Canberra station in Australia (© NASA/JPL).


The SEIS seismometer was turned on to its nominal channel for the first time in space since InSight took off on May 5. This is to perform a health test of the instrument during the cruise phase. All data received on Earth are consistent with those expected and InSight therefore brings a perfectly healthy instrument to Mars.

Since the final checks on the Vandenberg Space Center launch pad on April 25 and 26, 10 days before the launch of InSight, SEIS had never been turned on again. The test, which lasted only 10 minutes, consisted in starting the instrument, then collecting the data emitted by all the seismic sensors, as well as by numerous temperature probes.

All generated data were transmitted to Earth via the 34-metre antenna at Canberra’s Far Space Monitoring Station (DSN) in Australia. The information first passed through NASA’s ground infrastructure, before being sent to the CNES operations center in Toulouse (SISMOC – SeIS on Mars Operation Center). The data analysis, conducted by engineers from CNES, the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, JPL (NASA) and the instrument’s British and Swiss partners, showed no anomalies.

Two of the three short period sensors provided by the United Kingdom (the horizontal sensors, capable of operating in the absence of gravity) transmitted a signal of excellent quality, while the third sensor (designed to operate under Martian gravity and whose axis is vertical), logically sent a saturated signal. The data received by the very wide band sensors (VBB), placed under French responsibility, are also very good: the level of electricity consumption corresponds in particular to

the value desired by the engineers. Intended to operate under Martian gravity and just like the vertical sensor, the VBB also sent a saturated signal.

The next operations planned on SEIS during this cruise phase are planned for 19 July and 16 August. During these next operations, SEIS will be switched on again. The data provided by the two unsaturated sensors will allow a first calibration of these sensors.

The InSight probe is about 18.5 million kilometres from our planet. Its target, Mars, is currently in opposition and on July 30, the distance between Earth and Mars will be only 57.6 million kilometres, almost identical to the record minimum distance reached during the historic opposition of 2003. There are 132 days left before the probe lands on the Martian plain of Elysium on November 26.

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Site Insight : Premier allumage du sismomètre SEIS dans l’espace

Site CNES: SEIS est en bonne santé