Nasa's InSight spacecraft, the first robotic lander created to study the deep interior of a distant world, touched down safely on the surface of Mars with instruments to detect planetary seismic rumblings never measured anywhere but Earth.
The Timken Company has a manufacturing facility and Samson Rope is headquartered in Ferndale, and both have a history of involvement with space rovers and shuttle missions.
Many Mars-bound spacecraft launched by the U.S., Russian Federation and other countries have been lost or destroyed over the years, with a success rate of just 40 percent, not counting InSight.
Samson is behind the synthetic rope serving various other purposes on the space station, shuttles and landers.
Minutes later, JPL controllers received a fuzzy "selfie" photograph of the probe's new surroundings on the Red Planet, showing the edge of one lander leg beside a rock. "At least, we should consider a sister-planet program". Even launching the mission and operating the spacecraft while it was traveling to Mars required the cooperation of scientists in Australia, Spain and the United States. The image shows the landscape of the Elysium Planitia, which is a large plain that's located at the equator of Mars. On a clear day, the panels provide 600 to 700 watts - enough power to run a kitchen blender and conduct science.
The round, dome-shaped seismometer will sit on the surface and sense vibrations, or, as they're known on Mars, Marsquakes. As a result of the distance, there could be no human supervision as the lander entered the atmosphere, deployed its parachutes, chose the exact spot to land, fired its landing thrusters and softly touched down.
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The nail-biting entry, descent and landing phase began at 11:47am (02:00am on Tuesday in Cambodia) at Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, home to mission control for Mars InSight, and ended one second before 11:53am. "It's given them valuable experience on every facet of building, testing and operating a spacecraft in deep space". On Monday, Nov. 26, NASA TV will broadcast the landing from 11 a.m.to 12:30 p.m. PST/2 p.m.to 3:30 p.m. EST. Nearly as many missions to Mars have failed as have succeeded.
"MarCO is mostly made up of early-career engineers and, for many, MarCO is their first experience out of college on a NASA mission", said Joel Krajewski of JPL, MarCO's project manager.
A pair of satellites trailed InSight throughout the six-month, 300-million-mile journey and helped send back pictures just minutes later.
The twin "Cubesats" tagging along for the flight to Mars represented the first deep-space use of a miniature satellite technology that space engineers see as a promising low-priced alternative to some larger, more complex vehicles.
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