The new photos taken by InSight show us that the robotic arm is ready for the first lifts.
With its two meters in length, the robotic arm will be used to pick up the scientific instruments from the surface of the lander to place them carefully on the ground of Elysium Planitia, the lava plain where InSight landed last November 26.
First, however, the robotic arm will use the Instrument Deployment Camera, located in a joint of the robotic arm, to film the area in front of the lander itself. These images will help mission engineers determine the best place to deploy the seismometer and heat flux probe, the only instruments ever deployed by a robotic arm on the surface of another planet.
According to Bruce Banerdt, the mission’s principal investigator at NASA’s JPL, we are currently seeing the first glimpses of our work area but early next week we will be able to assemble a complete mosaic of the area filming even the smallest details.
Another camera, called Instrument Context Camera, is located just below the upper floor of the lander will also offer us a view of the work area, although the quality will be a bit lower.
In this regard, Tom Hoffman of JPL said:
“The Instrument Context Camera was equipped with a protective cover, however dust was able to settle on the lens. Despite this misfortune, this problem will not compromise the usefulness of the camera itself, which is still intended to film the area in front of the lander where the instruments will be placed.”
The ground placement of the instruments is a critical operation and the team is proceeding with great caution. It is expected to take between two and three months before the instruments are placed and calibrated….

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