Before the launch of NASA's new Mars Rover InSight fire, it was placed in a special clean room. When you enter this clean room, there are a few special rules that need attention. First, if you must sneeze, please move away from the detector. Second, if you drop anything, let NASA's security staff pick it up for you. Third, don't cross the yellow and black under any circumstances. Warning tape, touch the detector.
Prior to the visit, an NASA engineer even stressed to more than a dozen media in a conference room at Vandenberg Air Force Base - do not go to the spacecraft. I think there are always disobedient people.
There are many reasons for restricting the behavior of visitors, and they are quite serious. First of all, InSight's cost is close to one billion US dollars, although InSight fully considers how to deal with the harsh environment in the process of landing Mars in the design, but did not consider that it would be defamed. In addition, there are two planetary protection experts sitting in the conference room. Their task is to ensure that the earth's microbes do not affect the existing environment of Mars. NASA is obliged to ensure the cleanliness of other planets in the solar system. In just a month later, the InSight Mars Rover will launch off to Mars to conduct in-depth exploration and understanding of the red planet. After InSight lands, drilling will be carried out to unveil the mysterious geology of the rocky structure of the solar system.
On Friday, local time, NASA invited more than a dozen media to visit the InSight Mars rover. Before the visit, these media people were led into two rooms. In the first room, everyone first walks on a sticky white rectangle, which is the tape used to stick off all the particles. Then people wear blue boots that they can see in the hospital.
In the next room, everyone was asked to wear a mask and a headscarf on his head. A friendly and stern expert demonstrated how to put on work clothes without letting any material touch the ground. If you fell during the wear, you must start again. Then I sat on a bench and put on shoes with high-top socks, which sorely collapsed on my shins. Only now can I put my foot into the clean zone on the other side of the guard tape.
The expert guides through a glass door into a small room with many vents. When I lift my arm and rotate it 360 degrees, it feels like the body is going to explode. A few seconds later, I pushed another door and entered the clean room where InSight was placed.
InSight shines brightly, the body is almost completely white, and its surface is porous. InSight consists of two parts: the spacecraft itself and the heat shield on the surface. It can withstand temperatures of 1500 degrees Celsius during landing. All engineers standing around InSight are wearing clean white uniforms, while the visiting media people are eye-catching dark blue. With the hands clasped in front of each other, I could only see their friendly eyes and seemed to say that you wanted to talk about the InSight spacecraft at a safe distance.
Two of the eyes belong to Ryan Hendrickson, a planetary protection engineer at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.Hendrickson's greatest enemy is bacterial spores."these bacterial spores are usually those that are resistant to ultraviolet radiation, or are resistant to certain cleaning products," he murmured through his mask. "so when we build a spacecraft in a clean room,We are trying to screen the bacteria artificially.That's why we measure these bacterial spores in particular."if it is difficult to find the bacterial spores on InSight, other less resilient microbes, such as fungi, will not survive."
What is clear is that when a waiter wipes the table with a damp cloth, it actually spreads bacteria. With InSight, NASA periodically tests bacteria on InSight's surface and wipes it carefully to remove bacterial spores on the surface of spacecraft.
This probe will fly to Mars next month and NASA will thoroughly sterilize it
Illustration: InSight Mars Rover Working Hypothetical Diagram
They are very good at this. This special mission belongs to category IVa in the U.S. space system. "Therefore, there are only 300,000 bacterial spores on the entire InSight spacecraft," Hendrickson said. "If you put all this stuff together, you might be stuck on a nail." From a perspective, your hand is only one square inch, but there are about 10,000 bacteria. In contrast, the solar panels on the InSight spacecraft - which will power the spacecraft while scientifically detecting and communicating with the Earth - the InSight spacecraft is about 6 meters in length.
When InSight reaches the surface of Mars, it will begin deploying two major scientific instruments. The first is a seismometer that is wrapped in a dome and used to measure the vibrations of Mars. Of course, you can't take it for granted to measure the earthquake. As the scientists did on earth, through InSight's seismograph, planetary geologists will be able to infer the composition of Mars from these vibrations.
The second instrument, the strangest thermometer you've ever seen, will drill 16 feet deeper than any other Mars probe.The InSight then embed a cable with a heat sensor every 46 cm."with the thermal sensors we can actually figure out how the temperature changes in the boreholes are," said Bruce Banerdt, lead researcher of the Mars exploration mission. "the thermal gradient is the reason for radiating heat out of the planet.So in a short period of time, we can extrapolate this and push the thermometer deep inside the planet. "
The bad news about Mars is that scientists do not know how much heat Mars will leave after it is formed. But the good news is that Mars is far less geologically active than Earth and its plate structure, volcanic activity, and the frequency of vibrations are much lower. So, for a rocky planet, will it eventually undergo geological changes like the earth, or will it be relatively calm like Mars?
Barnt pointed out: "On the earth, we cannot study this exactly because the crust has been reconstructed by the motion of the plates, and the mantle has also been disrupted by severe convection."
These geological tectonic movements eliminated much of the evidence for the early process of planetary formation, but Mars may retain much similar evidence. Therefore, InSight will measure important data such as the thickness of the planet's crust and its core dimensions. According to Barnt, "We can use it to understand the processes that occurred during the early formation of Mars, and then to use all other rock formations."
But first, NASA must eliminate the potential biological threats brought by InSight. (晗冰)