NASA’s InSight lander carefully placed its seismometer, called the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS), on the surface of Mars at the end of last year and since then it has been making adjustments to ensure that it can get a clean signal of marsquakes occurring deep within the planet.
This included steps like adjusting the cable between the lander and the seismometer to stop it from flapping around in the wind and calibrating the seismometer’s internal sensors so it is level and balanced.
Now the lander has taken the next step on its journey to collect data from inside Mars: it has lowered a shield over the seismometer to protect it from the harsh Martian environment.
The Wind and Thermal Shield is important to protect the sensitive instrument from gusts of wind which could shake it and add noise to the data it collects.
The dome is designed in an aerodynamic manner so that when the wind passes over it, it presses the dome down further into the ground, meaning that it won’t fly away even in stormy Martian weather.
Even more of a concern that the wind is the temperature, which is highly variable on Mars and can fluctuate by 170 degrees Fahrenheit (94 degrees Celsius) over the course of a day.