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NASA's Mars InSight lander flexes its robotic arm

Press Trust of India  |  Washington 

Latest images from NASA's -- which successfully touched down on the Red Planet last week -- show its robotic arm is ready to do some lifting, the US space agency said.

With a reach of nearly two metres, the arm will be used to pick up science instruments from the lander's deck, gently setting them on the Martian surface at Planitia, the lava plain where touched down on November 26, said in a statement.

The arm will first use its Instrument Deployment Camera, located on its elbow, to take photos of the terrain in front of the lander, it said.

These images will help mission team members determine where to set InSight's seismometer and heat -- the only instruments ever to be robotically placed on the surface of another planet.

"Today we can see the first glimpses of our workspace," said Bruce Banerdt, the mission's at (JPL) in Pasadena,

"By early next week, we'll be it in finer detail and creating a full mosaic," Banerdt said.

Another camera, called the Instrument Context Camera, is located under the lander's deck. It will also offer views of the workspace, though the view won't be as pretty.

"We had a protective cover on the Instrument Context Camera, but somehow dust still managed to get onto the lens," said of JPL, InSight's

"While this is unfortunate, it will not affect the role of the camera, which is to take images of the area in front of the where our instruments will eventually be placed," Hoffman said.

Placement is critical, and the team is proceeding with caution. Two to three months could go by before the instruments have been situated and calibrated, said.

Over the past week and a half, mission engineers have been testing those instruments and systems, ensuring they are in working order.

A couple of instruments are even recording data: a drop in air pressure, possibly caused by a passing dust devil, was detected by the pressure sensor.

This, along with a magnetometer and a set of wind and temperature sensors, are part of a package called the Auxiliary Payload Sensor Subsystem, which will collect meteorological data.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, December 07 2018. 16:35 IST