InSight: a NASA mission to Mars
Since October 14 2013, T-Minus is involved in the NASA InSight project, as a subcontractor of 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. Part of the InSight lander is the HP3 payload, which consists of a mechanical “Mole” that will penetrate the surface to a depth of 5 meters.
Go to InSight project page
Via DLR Bremen, T-Minus performs Assembly Intergration and Testing (AIT) work on prototypes, proto-flight and flight models of the Mole. Assembly takes place in ISO-5 class clean room conditions to avoid any mechanical contamination, and Bioburden conditions to avoid contamination with Earth’s micro-organisms. Soldering the electrical connections according to ECSS standards is part of the activities T-Minus supports.
Next to assembly, T-Minus provides support for the development- and qualification testing activities, in terms of test design, preparation, execution and reporting. The tests include vacuum and vibration/shock testing of hardware, but also the investigation of the penetration performance of the Mole in various conditions. Amongst other facilities, a 5 m deep test bed filled with Mars-like soil is available for this in the LAMA facility at DLR Bremen.