T-Minus provides support for Mars mission
Since October 14, T-Minus is involved in the InSight project through a secondment at DLR (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt) Bremen. This project is part of NASA’s Discovery program, and aims at deploying a lander on the Martian surface by 2016. The project is managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).
The objective of project InSight is to perform a soft landing on Mars, and perform experiments to investigate the properties of its interior layers. A part of this lander is the HP3 experiment, which aims at investigating the properties of the Martian soil. This experiment consists of a penetration device, called a Mole, which will dig itself 5 m deep under the surface of the red planet. Its payload compartment contains several sensors. These include accelerometers to determine the path that the mole is following during the penetration.
Temperature sensors are also installed, in order to obtain a temperature profile of the soil.
Via DLR Bremen, T-Minus performs test engineering, assembly and detailed design tasks. This includes investigations of the penetration performance of the HP3 Mole in the LAMA facility at DLR Bremen. Amongst other facilities, a 5 m deep test bed filled with Mars-like soil is available here, in which the functioning of the Mole can be observed.